With the papal visit to the U.K. about to begin, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of Great Britain has banned an ice cream ad showing a heavily pregnant nun in church.
The magazine ad for Antonio Frederici ice cream shows the pregnant nun holding a tub of ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other. Its text reads “Immaculately Conceived ... Ice cream is our religion.”
According to a report on the ASA website, 10 readers challenged that the ad was “offensive to Christians, particularly those who practiced Catholicism.”
The ice cream maker claimed the ad’s idea of “conception” represented the development of their ice cream. Defending the ad, the company said its decision to use religious imagery “stemmed from their strong feelings towards their product.” They also said they wished to comment upon and question “the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues” by using “satire and gentle humor.”
“They believed that, as a form of art and self-expression, advertising should be challenging and often iconoclastic,” the ASA said.
According to the report, the publishers of The Lady magazine received eight direct complaints. The publishers said in hindsight it had been a misjudgment to publish the ad. Expressing regret about the offense caused to readers, they said they would not publish the ad or anything similar in the future.
The editor of The Lady is Rachel Johnson, the sister of the London Mayor, The Daily Mail reports.
The fashion magazine Grazia said they considered the ad’s intentions to be “lighthearted” and not “mocking.” They commented that their editorial content encouraged “debate and questioning” and so they did not believe the ad was likely to cause serious offense to readers.
The ASA concluded that the image of a nun “pregnant through immaculate conception” was likely to be seen as a distortion or mockery of Catholic beliefs and likely to cause “serious offence” to readers, particularly Catholics.
The Immaculate Conception is the Catholic dogma that the Virgin Mary was freed from sin at her conception. The dogma is often wrongly confused with the Virgin Birth of Christ.
Recently the advertising regulator approved the television advertising of condoms before 9 p.m., The Daily Mail reports. Last month it rejected complaints from those who thought that a television ad for Marie Stopes clinics was promoting abortion services.