Sex, sex, sex - priests and nuns used to sell ice cream
This advertisement is clearly designed to shock and offend, and so the media hype surrounding it is worth millions of pounds of free advertising. Sometimes one wonders if the Advertising Standards Authority is not bribed to ban an advertisement knowing full well that the furore surrounding the ban will give the advertisement and the product far more media coverage than it would ever have achieved otherwise.
Apparently, 10 complaints were received: 'a kiss between a priest and a nun was offensive because it demeaned people who had chosen to follow a religious vocation.
The response of Antonio Federici (the ice cream manufacturers) was that '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.
Seven Squared Publishing, who published Delicious and Sainsburys Magazines, explained that both publications were targeted at an adult audience aged between 25 and 55 years. They felt the ad was tongue in cheek and unlikely to offend their readers. They received two complaints from Delicious Magazine readers and five complaints from Sainsburys Magazine readers. They apologised for any offence caused and advised they had no plans to publish the ad again in future issues.'
The ASA Assessment:
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.
The ad breached CAP Code clause 5.1 (Decency).
The ad must not appear again in its current form.
One must be grateful that the campaign was not concerned with forbidden Irish temptations.
That the modern era is sex-obsessed is not in dispute: we live in a consumer society, and there is little that is marketed now without a glance, a wink, a flirt, a breast, or allusions to sexual intercourse because ‘sex sells’. If one were to judge by the media (which is more frequently a mirror to society than a catalyst for change), the fascination with sex is now more important than politics, religion, philosophy or even Mammon. Jesus may have had to address the latter as the dominating idol of his era: his judgement was that one may not serve both God and Mammon (Mt. 6:24). If one were to apply the same principle to the modern idol – ‘Eros’ – it is likely that Jesus would directly challenge society’s fixation with it, and by so doing confront those who obsess about sex and prioritise issues of sexuality, including those in the Church.