Church of England lambasts M&C for ‘blasphemous’ ads

The Church of England is considering lodging a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a poster campaign for Bulgarian Blueridge wine by M&C Saatchi, which compares the brand’s launch to the birth of Jesus.

The ASA is investigating one complaint about the posters, which were created by M&C Saatchi for wine maker Boyar Estates. A church spokesman says the strapline “Jesus was born in a trough” followed by “Bulgarian Blueridge – does it matter where it comes from?” is both incorrect and offensive.

“Not only is the statement wrong, it is also likely to offend a lot of people,” he says. “I am disappointed we were not consulted. Usually when people use religious iconoclasm in their advertising they speak to us first.”

But Moray MacLennan, chief executive of M&C Saatchi, says the poster campaign – which also features the straplines “Audrey Hepburn’s dad was a fascist”, “Bentleys are built in Crewe” and “The Windsors hail from Germany” – has a “highly Christian message”.

“That you should judge the person, not their origin, is something I would have thought the Church of England would be happy with as a statement,” he says.

The ASA has asked for a copy of the ad to determine whether to take any further action. If the complaint is upheld, it could result in the poster campaign, which launched last week and is scheduled to run until next month, being banned.

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