Dancing Pope leaflet offends Poles, is banned
Poles and Catholic’s reacted angrily to a nightclub flier which shows the late pope John Paul II with a bottle of Fosters in his hand, dancing with a young lady.
Both the Advertising Standards Authority and the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality got involved after numerous complaints were made.
Sheila Soltysik, secretary of Ipswich Polish Club, said:
It was hugely offensive. The sheer volume of the reaction is what made us take the matter to ISCRE.
It is unfortunate that the thoughtless actions of a marketing idea has created dismay amongst the Polish community and Catholic religion by depicting figures of high moral standards amongst ideas of inappropriate behaviour and surroundings.
Perhaps to some it may have innocent connotations but to the majority of sensible people it is deeply upsetting.
They cannot be allowed to get away with doing things like this, it could have caused real problems, I think we caught it just in time.
Jane Basham, director of ISCRE, said:
The depiction of the deceased Polish Pope particularly was clearly offensive and ISCRE believes that discrimination based on religious grounds is as abhorrent as any other.
I hope this will send a strong and important message across Suffolk that our businesses have an important responsibility to all of Suffolk’s faith and wider communities.
I am disappointed that neither the publicity company nor the club has offered any apology directly to our Polish and Catholic community.
AND ANOTHER THING: The above post was written in a hurry at the end of yesterday’s office time, and we neglected to mention the fact that it is an almost-perfect MWW story. It has nearly all the elements: the persecution complex, the petulant demand for respect, the conflation of race and religion (congrats to the ASA for not falling for that one), and the veiled threat of violence (“it could have caused real problems, I think we caught it just in time”).
The only thing missing is the “they wouldn’t treat religion X in this way” – but you can be sure that someone would have said that at some point in the affair.
Anyway, as a treat for all the Catholic complainers, we reprint a rare copy of one of the ASA’s most complained about adverts of all time. Yes, it’s John Paul II again: