Despite the recent abolishment of UK blasphemy laws (blas for me, blas for you, blas for everyone!), the Advertising Standards Authority is still taking a dim view of marketing which “causes offense” to Christians.
Yes, we’re all thinking it. What happened to ‘turn the other cheek’?
This week, the victim of sensitivity is new hairstyling brand ghd, whose â€œa new religion for hairâ€ campaign has been banned for, get this, eroticising the Christian religion. This from an organisation whose central figure is usually topless and in the company of a hooker. A whopping 22 people (and an archdeacon) complained about the ad. More details, a link to one of the ads, and the ASA ruling after the jump.
The ASA ruling for the ads describes the ads (they sound rather fun to me), and also the nature of the complaint,
“The Archdeacon of Liverpool and 22 members of the public objected that the ads, particularly the use of the phrase “thy will be done” from the Lord’s Prayer and the depiction of the letter ‘t’ as a cross in ‘thy’, were offensive to the Christian faith.”
The ASA’s ruling reads like a parody.
“The ASA acknowledged that ghd had been using the phrase “a new religion for hair” in their marketing for the past seven years. We considered that ghd’s use of the word “religion” in that context did not mock faith or belief, but was intended to refer in the wider sense to an interest or hobby followed with devotion.
We noted, however, that the women in the ads appeared to be in prayer: their hands were clasped and they were looking upwards towards the sky. One was holding a votive candle and another was holding a set of beads that resembled rosary beads. We also noted the images of the women in their bedrooms, some of them in their underwear and others on their beds, were presented in a way that could be seen to be erotic.Â “
What is amusingly absent from the ASA ruling is any comment on why it’s not ok to eroticise or parody religion. If Christians believed the stuff they spout (and they do – I used to be one), then they should be comfortable enough knowing that those evil advertising execs are going to hell without having to censor legitimate advertising. Let’s get one thing clear: religion has been ‘eroticised’ in art, movies, literature and comedy for years, and certainly parodied therein, and the Archdeacon has kept his job. What is so weak about his position and organisation that he needs to fear an advert?
Let’s see just what it is that he fears so much:[youtube:http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=dyZDD0yccQI]
I bet this year GHD sell more hair products than the church gets new members. Perhaps instead of seeking to censor, the Archbish should be seeking out their advertising agency…