A Mulberry Christmas ad that was alleged to have disrespected the nativity scene has been cleared of blasphemy by the advertising regulator.
The controversial ad sparked 42 complaints after it was posted on the fashion brand’s site and YouTube channel last month. It featured imagery reminiscent of a nativity scene, with baby Jesus replaced in this instance by a Mulberry handbag.
Some of the criticisms levelled at the creative questioned whether the reworking of an important biblical event for the purpose of consumerism undermined the Christian faith. Reports to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claimed the ad is ‘blasphemous’. When presented with these claims, Mulberry responded that “offence was a subjective concept” and they believed the ad was a “light hearted” reference to the nativity scene; a scene referenced often in popular culture in the run up to Christmas.
Mulberry referenced the end comment of the ad “Guys, it’s just a bag” as evidence that no comparison with the baby Jesus was intended. The ASA noted that complainants found the use of religious references for commercial aims offensive, but went on to add the modern-day present-giving context was set up from the onset and highlighted prominently by the closing quote.
The watchdog ruled that the ad was more humorous than it was offensive, and did not find it in breach of any advertising codes.