Phones 4 U thought that Thursday 21 April was just the same as every other Thursday. However, it was Holy Thursday. On this day, Phones 4 U placed an ad in the Metro newspaper which depicted a cartoon of Jesus, grinning, winking, and giving the thumbs up under the text ‘Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones’.
The Christian community were not impressed, and 98 people complained that the ad was disrespectful to Christians, especially as it was run during the Easter period. The ASA today (7 Sep 2011) found that the ad breached rule 4.1 of the CAP Code as it caused harm and offence.
The ASA accepts that marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching the Code. However, they urge marketeers to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material. Companies should not be deterred from being edgy and tongue in cheek with their marketing efforts, but they must make sure they take all external factors, including timing, into consideration before launching a new campaign. Otherwise, the risk of vexing a large proportion of your target audience is extremely high.
Posted by Nina Best, who specialises in regulatory matters; entertainment licensing; advertising and marketing law; advice and representation on infringement of Food Safety Manufacturing Product Regulations.
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