Authority rejects complaints over Lidl ad which refers to condoms and shows mother saying 'Jesus'

A complaint about an ad featuring the word Jesus and a reference to condoms has been rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) .

The has found that 17 advertisements breached their code on the grounds of Misleading Advertising, Principles, Taste and Decency, Safety and Promotions.

The independent Complaints Committee looked into 20 complaints against ads on posters, website, social media, cinema, TV, press, radio, leaflet and brochure advertising.

Telecommunications firms made up six of the complaints with three made against Eir and two against Lyca Mobile, with Vodafone accounting for the final one.

While they upheld 17 complaints, two were not upheld and the final ad - a Universal Pictures Snapchat ads on the Just Jordan Snapchat account - was dealt with by the committee by way of a statement.

In relation to blogger Just Jordan who attended a movie premiere but did not include hashtags on all her snapchats indicating that they were marketing communications - the ASAI statement said that such hashtags must appear on all snaps even if they disappear.

The ASAI upheld a complaint about an AIB ad featuring a child in a car seat in a bulky jacket, on the grounds that it was not in line with recommended safety guidelines saying ads should not encourage or condone such behaviour.

The authority also upheld a complaint about an Opera which was advertised as featuring singer Celine Byrne but failed to mention she was only appearing on certain nights.

However, they rejected two complaints about a TV ad by Lidl which showed a mother and her two grown-up sons doing their shopping in the supermarket.

In the ad, one of the sons returns with several packets of meats and says "I have returned," his mum sees the amount of meat he is proposing to buy and says: "Oh, Jesus. Wait a second, wait a second."

A complaint found it "unacceptable, disrespectful and offensive for the name of 'Jesus' to be uttered as a common swear word". The complainant said that he considered its use to be "insulting to Catholics and Christians of all denominations".

Lidl replied saying that any "unscripted utterances" during the advertisement had not been used in an attempt to "belittle, demean or undermine any religion or any individual", a point the ASAI committee noted. The retailer also pointed out that it had been used in the colloquial sense of the word, ie "as a way of conveying surprise or amused bewilderment at the scene unfolding".

The ASAI committee considered that religious references, in this case 'Jesus', "were often used colloquially by the general public and the media in Ireland".

They said: "While acknowledging that the use of such language may cause offence to some people, they noted the tonality of the advertisement and considered that it was not aggressive in tone or offensive", so finding it had not breached their Code.

The second objection surrounds a comment from the mother further on in the ad when she poses the following question to her sons: "Family pack of condoms?"

The complaint considered it to be "inappropriate" since the advertisement had aired at a time when children may have been watching.

The supermarket said the dialogue had been "unscripted" and had captured "a genuine representation of their customers’ shopping habits", which resulted in "some candid moments". They also said the advertisement had been given a post 7pm restriction by three television channels and a post 9pm restriction by another and it had "never been their intention" to air the ad outside of these hours.

The ASAI committee rejected the complaint saying that, since the ad had not aired before 7pm, it had therefore not aired in or around children’s programming.

They also did not consider that the advertising "had addressed children either directly or indirectly" nor did they consider that its inclusion in programming at the time specified was "inappropriate".

A full list of the complaints can be seen here, and they are listed below.

Principals / Misleading

An Droichead Beag

Lyca Mobile x 2 (poster and website ad)

Taste & Decency

Nissan Ireland




Eir x 2 (press and website ad)

North’s Property


Aer Lingus

Ballet Opera Ireland

Sim’s IVF Cork

Misleading / Promotions


Westwood Club


Orla Twomey, Chief Executive of the ASAI, said: "Sectors tend to fluctuate as marketing trends develop, and this includes the Telecommunications sector.

"The ASAI has noted the complaints within the Telecommunications Sector in particular and is continuing to work with and actively engage with advertisers within the area, to ensure that all future advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful."

"The ASAI provide a free and confidential copy advice service to advertisers, agencies and media members to help them create responsible ads. If an advertiser has any concerns about a marketing communications’ compliance with the ASAI’s Code, they can contact us and avail of the free and confidential copy advice service."

More in this Section

Increased support for Fianna Fáil in latest poll while Fine Gael sees 2-point drop

The Lotto results are in...

Ireland will recognise Palestine if impasse with Israel not broken, Coveney says

Coveney voices concern over DUP’s role in Brexit

More From The Irish Examiner