A Quebec TV ad, featuring a priest and his congregation singing the praises of a barbecue chicken chain as a hymn at mass, has ruffled more than a few Catholic feathers in Canada’s French province, reported the Globe and Mail.
Les Rotisseries St-Hubert Ltd., has agreed to drop the ad, after being inundated with complaints from offended customers.
The massive reaction from Quebecers took the company by surprise since most people in the province, though nominally Catholic, have the lowest church-attendance rates in Canada.
Jean-Claude Hardy, the company’s director of marketing, said he received about 50 to 70 complaints a day since the ad first aired Oct. 26, including one from an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Montreal, who asked to go unnamed.
“I’ve been called an imbecile several times. It’s never pleasant being called an imbecile,” Hardy told the Globe and Mail.
Quebec Catholics responded to the ad quite ferociously with calls to radio stations, letters to newspapers and threats to boycott the family-restaurant chain, which has deep roots in the province and which most Quebecers consider a cultural institution in itself.
“A church is a place where people gather to give meaning to their life, not to give publicity to chicken,” the national newspaper quoted restaurant patron Frank McCauley as saying. Even if Quebecers have stopped practicing their religion, “you can’t touch sacred things with impunity,” he said.
Ironically, the ad agency that produced the spot for St-Hubert also produces ads for the Archdiocese of Montreal, reported the Globe.