‘Blasphemous’ Mulberry Christmas ad escapes ban

More than 40 people complained that Mulberry’s Christmas ad, which replaced the baby Jesus in the traditional Christian Nativity scene with a handbag, was “blasphemous” but the ASA ruled the ad was poking fun at consumerism not religion and decided not to ban it.

The ad, created by Adam+Eve DDB, featured on Mulberry’s website and YouTube channel. The spots showed a man giving a women a Mulberry handbag as a gift in scenes reminiscent of the Christmas Nativity story.

Forty-two people questioned whether the ad was offensive to Christians because it replaced the baby Jesus with a handbag. Most objected because they said it undermined the central message of their face, that the important nativity scene was being used for the purpose of consumerism and that it was blasphemous.

Mulberry said the ad was not meant to offence but to contain a light-hearted reference to the Nativity scene with no comparison to the baby Jesus intended. The company added that as the scene is so recognisable, it was legitimate for a British brand to use it and to reflect its brand humour and the fun and excitement of Christmas.

The Advertising Standards Authority decided not to uphold the complaints, pointing out that the “playful and ridiculous nature” of the comparison was likely to be seen as a humorous reference to consumerism.

“We acknowledge that the ad might not be to everyone’s taste, but consider most viewers would understand it as a light-hearted take on the Nativity story, intended to poke fun at the effect of consumerism on Christmas rather than mocking or denigrating Christian belief,” says the ASA.

The Mulberry ad was found not to be in breach and the ad can continue to be shown.

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