Ashley Baxstrom: Jesus saves but maybe he shouldn’t sell. At least, not cell phones. And especially not during Easter.
The Advertising Standards Authority, which governs media advertising and operates kind of like the UK’s version of the FCC, this month banned a publicity campaign from UK mobile retailer Phones 4 U that ran this past spring, calling them “disrespectful.”
The ads featured JC’s smiling, winking, thumbs-up-giving mug – a variation on the popular “Buddy Christ” character from the 1999 film “Dogma” – and the slogan “Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones.”
The ASA reported 98 complaints from consumers who had received the ad in their papers during Easter and stated that the depiction of Jesus, especially being featured during the Christian Holy Week, “gave the impression they were mocking core Christian beliefs.”
Phones 4 U, a largely independent retailer, argued they had been trying to show religion in “a light-hearted, positive and contemporary” way, but in the end conceded that offense had been taken. They said the advertisements had been withdrawn and apologies sent to those who complained.
Previous bans have included campaigns which the ASA said were implying sexual violence against women and underage sex, or seemed to simulate drug use, or “glamorised and condoned violence”; on the other side, ads for the 2009 film “Inglorious Basterds” were deemed inoffensive.
We would be curious to find a history of more cases in which religion was the issue being debated. Does the ASA have a guidebook detailing what constitutes good and bad, safe or offensive, religion? Has anybody tried a dancing rabbi candlestick campaign? Is it just disrespectful because people complained, or because it ran during a Christian holiday? Would the ASA have ruled on it otherwise?
In the words of George Carlin (as “Dogma” character Cardinal Glick), “Christ didn’t come to Earth to give us the willies – He came to help us out!” Too bad, Jesus; guess that doesn’t include a good discount.