Racy religious ice cream ads fail ASA test

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Advertising

British ice cream brand Antonio Federici has once again fallen foul of advertising rules in the UK over an ad portraying two priests on the verge of a kiss.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned the advert a month after upholding similar complaints about another Antonio Federici ad that featured a heavily pregnant woman dressed as a nun alongside the words “immaculately conceived”​ and “ice cream is our religion”.

“We believe in salvation”

The latest verdict relates to an ad that appeared in Look magazine back in June. The ad showed two priests in full robes about to kiss, one holding a spoon and the other a tub of ice cream. The accompanying text read “we believe in salivation”.

The ASA received 10 complaints about the ad from readers who felt that it was offensive because it mocked religion. The UK advertising watchdog agreed and upheld the complaints, delivering the following verdict:

“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.”

Antonio Federici sought to defend its advertising campaign to the ASA, by claiming that the ad did not mock but challenged the Catholic Church, containing images that reflected issues being reported in the press.

Delivering its adjudication the ASA reported: “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.”

“Phenomenal response”

A spokesperson for Antonio Federici told DairyReporter.com that the company was disappointed with the ASA decision but added that the campaign has already come to an end, so the verdict will have little practical impact.

The spokesperson added the verdict raises questions about what the ASA stands for and exactly who it represents. She said: “The ads had a phenomenal response. The number of positive views about the campaign far outweighed the number of complaints.”

Antonio Federici markets Italian style ice cream in the UK that it sells at Waitrose and some Sainsbury’s stores. A new advertising campaign is being planned for the New Year.

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Ice Cream

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