The video shows a man giving a woman a Mulberry handbag as a gift in “light-hearted” scenes reminiscent of the Nativity story.
But 42 viewers complained that the ad was blasphemous and offensive to Christians because it replaced the baby Jesus with a handbag and undermined central messages of their faith by using the important scene for the purpose of consumerism.
Mulberry said the comment, “Guys, it’s just a bag”, made by the man in the video, made it clear no comparison with the baby Jesus was intended.
It said the Nativity scene was a central concept to British society and, as such, it was legitimate for a British company to use the scene in a way that would be recognisable by its customers and which reflected the humour of the brand and the fun and excitement of Christmas.
Mulberry said it did not believe the video would cause serious offence.
The Advertising Standards Authority noted the ad was based on the Bible story of the birth of the baby Jesus in a stable, and the visits by the shepherds and the wise men bearing gifts.
It said: “We acknowledged that the ad might not be to everyone’s taste, but considered 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.
“Because of that, we considered the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.”