Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

ASA Rules That Ice Cream Ad Gives Offense

Remember those complaints over that "sexy" nun and priest ad for Antonio Federici Gelato Italiano? The Advertising Standards Authority (UK) has now nixed them after reviewing the complaints and the company's response. Read more here.

The ASA first started looking into the flap over the depiction over the nun and priest in a compromising position? about six weeks ago amid concerns that the ad might give offense to religious readers. The upshot? The ad contravenes the decency rules of the advertising code (CAP Code 5.1)

From the ASA's adjudication:

Antonio Federici said the ad was intended as a light-hearted, tongue in cheek portrayal celebrating forbidden Italian temptations which their Gelato Italiano ice cream represented.  They considered that, in an age where religion was frequently used in a humorous way in the media, the image would not offend the vast majority of readers.  They felt this was borne out by the small number of complaints received.  They considered the ad was unlikely to offend deeply a minority of people.  In their view, there was nothing in the ad that was likely to cause either serious or widespread offence.

Antonio Federici said it was significant that the image did not show the nun and priest touching, or kissing and the reader was therefore left pondering their dilemma - would they or would they not succumb to temptation and kiss?  They considered the complaints were therefore concerned with the implication of the ad, not the ad itself, and pointed out that each individuals reaction to it would be shaped by their own values and experiences.  


The ASA noted the ad played on the theme of giving into temptation but stopped short of showing the nun and priest kissing.  The ad stated "KISS TEMPTATION" and the two were portrayed in a seductive pose, as if they were about to kiss passionately.

We considered that the portrayal of the priest and nun in a sexualised manner and the implication that they were considering whether or not to give in to temptation, was likely to cause serious offence to some readers.

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