Ice cream ad ruled offensive to Christians

A campaign for an ice cream brand featuring a pregnant woman dressed as a nun has been banned because it could be offensive to Catholics.

The ruling comes days before the Pope, head of the Catholic Church, arrives for a tour of UK cities at the weekend.

The magazine ad for Antonio Federici ice cream carried the strapline “Immaculately conceived … Ice Cream is our Religion” and appeared in titles such as Grazia and The Lady.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 10 complaints about the ad saying it was offensive to Christians, particularly to Catholics.

Antonio Federici defended the ad saying the word “conception” referred to the development of the ice cream and the decision to sue religious imagery sprung from their attachment to the product and their wish “to comment on and question … the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues.”

The company added that the ad only received a small number of complaints and it believed that advertising, as a form of art “should be challenging and often iconoclastic.”

The ASA said that the ad was likely to be seen as a “distortion and mockery” of the beliefs of Roman Catholics and using religious imagery in such a light-hearted way was likely to accuse serious offence. It said the ad must not be repeated in its current form.

Last year the ASA banned an ad by the company which showed a nun and priest about to kiss.

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