|14th January |
Advert censor explains why ASA is so easily offended by minor joviality about religion
See article from
See letter from the NSS to the ASA [pdf]
See Reply from the ASA [pdf]
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a complaint from the National Secular Society which had accused the ASA of unreasonably restricting freedom of expression by banning advertisements too readily if they risk offending even a few
In a long justification of its enforcement of the Code of Advertising Practice, the wording of which the NSS also attacked, James Best, chairman of the CAP, refused to accept any of the NSS's points about its banning of ads that poke
even mild fun at religion.
The complaint arose from the banning of a series of advertisements from the ice cream company Antonio Federici, which, in the ASA's word were offensive, because they believed they mocked Catholicism .
Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said:
When the adverts were banned, the NSS said that the ASA was introducing a new sort of blasphemy law through the back door. This response from the
ASA gives us no reason to change that opinion. When did it become illegal to satirise Catholicism?
We have become increasingly concerned about an unreasonable deference to religion by the ASA. We were particularly irked by the
banning of the ice cream ads, one of which (in the ASA's own words) showed two priests in full robes who looked as though they were about to kiss. One of the men also wore rosary beads and held a spoon in his hand; the other held a tub of ice cream. The
ad included text that stated We Believe in Salivation.
The advertisements were ruled by the Authority to have breached the Code of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the number of complainants is often pitifully small, just six in the
case of the priests and ice cream ad.
The Code of Advertising Practice includes the ruling that ads:
should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken
to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
The NSS complained last year to the ASA, and a high level meeting was arranged between the ASA's chair, Lord Smith of Finsbury
(supported by senior executives), and Keith Porteous Wood and NSS senior campaigns officer, Tessa Kendall.
We emphasised the importance of freedom of expression and pointed out that one of their
adjudications had recently been overruled by the courts on grounds of freedom of expression. Ironically, the case had been brought by a fundamentalist church, in respect of the banning of its advert criticising Gay Pride parade inBelfast. The ad was
headlined 'The word of God against sodomy' and invited those who opposed the parade to meet peacefully.
The NSS is now considering its next step.
|11th December |
Antonio Federici ice cream makers consider challenging ASA ban on mild religious mockery
One has to wonder what laws underpin the ASA ban on this magazine advert, Surely there is no law putting adverts above the laws of the land such as obscenity, indecent displays,
public order and incitement to hatred. None of which can apply to a mildly mocking magazine advert.
Perhaps the ban is just a voluntary agreement by advertisers not to carry banned adverts.
This is all particularly interesting as the ASA
will apply their easily offended nonsense to all UK websites from 1st March 2011.
National Secular Society
Ice cream company Antonio Federici is challenging ASA's ban on religiously satirical ads
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has demanded that the Antonio Federici ice cream company signs an undertaking not to run the ad again, or any
other advertising which may cause serious or widespread offence.
But the family behind the Antonio Federici ad has refused to make that promise and is seeking legal advice.
The ASA has threatened to ban all advertising for the brand if
it refuses to comply.
The move comes after the ASA's decision to ban an advert depicting two gay priests enjoying a tub of ice cream, based on just eight complaints.
Antonio Federici described the decision as, openly homophobic and
astonishing given the Chairman of the ASA (Lord Chris Smith) was himself the UK's first openly gay MP.
A spokesman for Antonio Federici said: We come from the Father Ted school of advertising where freedom of speech should be a right. We
have a long and honourable tradition of satirising politics and religion. What's changed?
In October the National Secular Society called on the communications minister Ed Vaizey to institute an inquiry into the ASA's decision arguing they had
reinstated the blasphemy law unilaterally.
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: The advertisements for this ice cream were mildly satirical, featuring priests and nuns apparently enjoying the sensuality of the ice
cream – and each other. This is either the result of religious activists flexing their 'blasphemy muscles' or religious believers who aren't very confident in their faith and feel that even the mildest humorous reference must be suppressed. I hope
that Federici bring this to court and have this over-the-top censorship overturned.
In October 2010, the ASA wrote in their published
assessment of the advert:
The ASA noted the CAP Code stated
that ads should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability .
We noted the ad used the text We Believe in Salivation as a theme to refer to the taste of the product and to the image of the priests, who were portrayed in a seductive pose as if they were about to kiss passionately. We
considered the portrayal of the two priests in a sexualised manner was likely to be interpreted as mocking the beliefs of Roman Catholics and was therefore likely to cause serious offence to some readers. We concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 11) clause 5.1 (Decency).
|27th October |
ASA take easy offence at another ice cream advert
A magazine ad, for Antonio Federici ice cream, appeared in Look magazine. It showed two priests in full robes who looked as though they were about to kiss. One of the men also wore rosary beads and held a spoon in his hand; the other held a tub of ice
cream. The ad included text that stated We Believe in Salivation .
Six complainants objected that the ad was offensive, because they believed it mocked Catholicism.
Antonio Federici said their advertising did not mock Catholicism but
reflected the grave troubles they considered affected the Catholic Church. They gave examples of issues that had been reported in the press, which they believed many people would find more offensive than an ad that celebrated homosexuality.
said the issue of gay and lesbian bishops and priests was one that currently divided the Church of England and was likely to continue to do so. Antonio Federici said the ad contrasted the actions of the Catholic Church with their belief that if ice cream
were a religion, it would be one of universal love, regardless of race, colour, creed or gender. They said they were Catholics but would continue to produce advertising that challenged the Catholic Church while they believed it remained troubled.
ASA Assessment: Upheld
The ASA noted the CAP Code stated that ads should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence
on the grounds of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability .
We noted the ad used the text We Believe in Salivation as a theme to refer to the taste of the product and to the image of the priests, who were portrayed in a
seductive pose as if they were about to kiss passionately. We considered the portrayal of the two priests in a sexualised manner was likely to be interpreted as mocking the beliefs of Roman Catholics and was therefore likely to cause serious offence to
some readers. We concluded that the ad breached the Code.
|17th September |
ASA easily offended at ad for 'immaculately conceived' ice cream
See article from asa.org.uk
|15th September |
ASA easily offended at ad for 'immaculately conceived' ice cream
Based on article from
A magazine ad for Antonio Federici ice cream showed a heavily pregnant woman dressed as a nun standing in a church holding a tub of ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other. Text stated Immaculately Conceived ... ICE CREAM IS OUR RELIGION .
Ten readers challenged whether the ad was offensive to Christians, particularly to those who practised Catholicism.
Antonio Federici said the idea of conception represented the development of their ice cream. They said their decision
to use religious imagery stemmed from their strong feelings towards their product (they cited the text ICE CREAM IS OUR RELIGION ) and also from their wish to comment on and question, using satire and gentle humour, the relevance and hypocrisy of
religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues. They believed the small number of complaints the ASA had received represented a very small proportion of the readership of the publications. They did not believe offence had been so deeply felt
as to affect their right, as marketers, to free expression and that offence caused to a small minority should not affect the ability of the wider public to see their ad. They believed that, as a form of art and self-expression, advertising should be
challenging and often iconoclastic.
The publishers of The Lady magazine had received eight complaints made direct to them. They said that, in hindsight, it had been a misjudgement on their part to publish the ad. They regretted the offence that
had been caused to their readers and said they would not publish the ad or anything similar to it in future.
Grazia said they considered the statement ICE CREAM IS OUR RELIGION suggested that the ad was intended to be lighthearted and not
mocking of any religious groups. They said the editorial content of Grazia encouraged debate and questioning. As such, they believed the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to their readers.
The ASA noted that the CAP Code stated that ads should contain nothing that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race,
religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability. Compliance with the Code will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards of decency . We considered the use of a nun pregnant through immaculate conception was likely
to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics. We concluded that to use such an image in a light hearted way to advertise ice cream was likely to cause serious offence to readers, particularly those who practised the Roman
We noted that the number of complaints was relatively small but that the ad had been placed in a small number of publications only.
The ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency).
|19th June |
Pregnant nun ice cream advert has the desired effect
Based on article from
A controversy-courting Italian ice-cream maker has run an advert featuring a heavily pregnant nun with the strapline immaculately conceived .
40 people have complained to the advertising censors of the ASA saying that it is offensive to
Christians because it mocks the birth of Jesus.
The ad, which is featured in magazines The Lady and Grazia, features a pregnant nun enjoying a pot of Antonio Federici ice-cream.
The Advertising Standards Authority has launched an
investigation to see if the campaign breaks the advertising code on the grounds of taste and decency.
Matt O'Connor, creative director at the ice-cream company, argued that it is an intelligent, challenging and iconoclastic piece of advertising
. O'Connor, who points out that he is an Irish Catholic himself.
|2nd July |
ASA Advertising censor offended by tempting ice cream
Based on article from
An ad, which appeared in Delicious Magazine and Sainsburys Magazine , for Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano ice cream, showed a priest and a nun looking as if they were about to kiss. The nun was in full habit and the priest was
wearing rosary beads around his neck and holding a pot of ice cream in his hand. Text stated KISS TEMPTATION.
Ten complainants thought the suggestion of a kiss between a priest and a nun was offensive, because it demeaned people who had
chosen to follow a religious vocation.
ASA Assessment: Upheld
The ASA noted the ad played on the theme of giving into temptation but stopped short of showing the nun and priest kissing. The ad stated KISS TEMPTATION
and the two were portrayed in a seductive pose, as if they were about to kiss passionately.
We considered that the portrayal of the priest and nun in a sexualised manner and the implication that they were considering whether or not to give in
to temptation, was likely to cause serious offence to some readers.
The ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency) and must not appear again in its current form.
|2nd May |
Advertising censor to investigate sexy ice cream habit
An ice cream advert which shows a glamorous nun about to kiss a priest is being investigated by the advertising watchdog.
The picture promoting a new brand called Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano is accompanied by the tag-line Kiss Temptation.
It is believed to have appeared in a number of publications - including Delicious and Sainsbury's magazines - before bringing a complaint.
Now the Advertising Standards Authority, which confirmed it is looking into whether the
commercial has broken regulations, could ban the advert.
The Committee of Advertising Practice rules on religious offence states that portraying nuns in a sexual manner is inappropriate.
Matt O'Connor, Antonio Federici's creative
director, said: We thought it was light-hearted and it was not designed to give any offence.