An advert for Phones 4 U, featuring a winking cartoon-like illustration of Jesus with the text "Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones" has been deemed disrespectful by the ASA.
The advert, which appeared in print during April of this year, received 98 complaints from people who said that the ad was offensive, because the depiction of Jesus Christ and the Sacred Heart, the use of the term "miraculous" in that context and their publication during the Easter period were disrespectful to the Christian faith.
Phones 4 U said the ads were not intended to be disrespectful of the Christian faith nor were they intended to cause offence to Christians. It explained that their intention had been to run a press ad incorporating what it understood to be a light-hearted, positive and contemporary image of Christianity relevant to the Easter weekend.
It said that with the benefit of hindsight, it understood and regretted any offence the ads had caused to some Christians and they apologised to anyone who was offended by the ads. The advert was withdrawn following complaints.
The Advertising Standards Authority deemed the advert in breach of the harm and offence section of the CAP code, and said: “We noted that the ads featured a cartoon-like graphical illustration of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity, and the Sacred Heart, a sacred symbol central to the Christian faith.
“We considered that, although the ads were intended to be light-hearted and humorous, their depiction of Jesus winking and holding a thumbs-up sign, with the text "Miraculous" deals during Easter, the Christian Holy Week which celebrated Christ's resurrection, gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs. We therefore concluded that the ads were disrespectful to the Christian faith and were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians.”