A magazine ad for ice cream was headed, "THE THREE VERY WISE ICE CREAM MEN". The ad featured a traditional Christmas nativity scene but it had Mary holding a spoon and the three wise men bearing gifts of ice cream.
13 complainants objected that the ad was offensive on religious grounds, particularly at Christmas time.
Antonio Federici said they did not believe that the ad would cause offence to the majority of people of saw it.
The ASA noted that the ad was based on the biblical story of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus, but featured the wise men bearing gifts of ice cream rather than gold, frankincense and myrrh. We also noted that Mary was holding a spoon. We noted that the ad appeared at Christmas time, which the complainants found offensive on religious grounds. We acknowledged that the ad might not be to everyone's taste; however, we considered that most consumers would understand that it was light-hearted take on the biblical story rather than a mockery of Christian belief. Because we did not consider that the ad would cause widespread or serious offence, we concluded that it had not breached the Code.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
No further action needed.