Religiously offended top ASA complaints list

The Advertising Standards Authority today releases its 2004 report, the first to include broadcast adverts in its remit. Offences against religious sensitivity top the charts, taking the number one and two spots in non-broadcast ads, and the number two in broadcast. The Guardian has a report.

Here is Number 1 in the non-broadcast, a poster for Channel 4′s Shameless:
shameless ad
As you can see, it looks a bit like Da Vinci’s Last Supper, so it is obviously a breach of copyright held by Christians on the master’s work. Oh wait, they don’t own the copyright on Da Vinci’s work. The complaint was rejected.

Here’s number 2, a poster for the morning after pill,
immaculate contraception ad
The words “immaculate contraception” are quite similar to the words “immaculate conception”, which is a doctrine made up by the Catholic Church (something about the creator of the universe keeping his mother sin-free from the moment her father’s sperm fertilised her mother’s ovum). This similarity was deemed unacceptable by the ASA, and they upheld the complaints.

Number two in the broadcast chart was another one concerning Jesus’ mother. Mr Kipling’s mince pies were the offenders this time. The TV advert showed a woman called Mary giving birth in a Church hall nativity play (a dramatic reconstruction of the unlikely story of Jesus’ birth). Christians complained that the scene mocked the birth of Jesus, and the ASA once again upheld the complaints.

UPDATE: Only The Church of England Newspaper had the idea of asking Beyer for a quote:

Since Jerry Springer the Opera, believers have become much more aware when religion is being ridiculed. Jerry Springer was a watershed: it showed people that they can make their voices heard.

he commented, witlessly – forgetting that these complaints were made in 2004, before his imagined Springer “watershed”.


6 Responses to “Religiously offended top ASA complaints list”

  1. The good thing is that it takes so few complaints to get in the top ten. 83 people were scared by the teacher training ads because they had headless figures. It only took 47 to get Ryanair’ ‘Fawking Great Offers’ into the top ten non-broadcast. How hard could it be to get the nutty poster outside your local church into the top ten? Isn’t ‘Jesus Saves’ an unsubstantiated claim?

  2. Monitor says:

    That is a very good point.

  3. tom p says:

    or even an untranssubstantiated complaint.

  4. G. Tingey says:

    I think it’s time for a building society to try the old one: “Jesus saves – but Moses invests!”
    Ahem ….

  5. stuart says:

    I still prefer the old “…but Beckham scores on the rebound” myself.
    Seriously though, there’s something in Stephen’s comment about church posters. While I’d regard it as petty to pick on my well intentioned local church, on the other hand some groups do hide behind charitable status to get up to very dubious things in the name of religion, and they’re well funded enough to mount lavish advertising campaigns. It seems reasonable to see if they ‘do what it says on the tin’.

  6. Christopher Shell says:

    Stuart is right. Thankfully the charity commissioners will generally get on their case sooner or later.