Inconceivable ad gets icy reception

ADVERTISERS regularly claim their products should be seen as gifts from God, but this is taking things to extremes.

An advert for the popular Antonio Federici ice cream has led to a bout of moral outrage after it used a posed image of a pregnant ‘nun’ to claim the product had been “immaculately conceived”.

The promotion, which is featured in British magazines The Lady and Grazia, stars a petite, fresh-faced young woman wearing a habit and rosary beads while she tucks into a helping of the ice cream.

Clearly heavily pregnant – an issue which would cause consternation within the Catholic institution – the advert includes a tongue-in-cheek message claiming that, just like the nun’s pregnancy or the Virgin Mary, the only explanation for the dessert tasting this good is if it was “immaculately conceived”.

The advert was developed by Antonio Federici’s creative director Matt O’Connor, who is himself an Irish Catholic.

In the few weeks it has been running, the ad has been the subject of 40 separate complaints to Britain’s advertising watchdog by irate members of the public.

As a result, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation to see if the promotion and similar projects as part of the company’s “ice cream is our religion” campaign breach advertising codes for taste and decency.

One complaint to the ASA was particularly forceful in its view, warning that the advert should be banned completely “because it mocks the virgin birth of Jesus”.

However, the man behind the promotion, Mr O’Connor, has insisted there is nothing wrong with the claims being made, which highlight the reality that behind the dogma all religious representatives are first and foremost people.

“This is an intelligent, challenging and iconoclastic piece of advertising,” the ice cream maker’s creative director explained.

“The advert tells a deeper story, it tells of the horrific stories involving thousands of pregnant Irish women enslaved by the Catholic Church in convents and who had their children taken away from them by nuns because they were seen as ‘moral degenerates’,” he added.


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