While all and sundry are getting their knickers in a knot over the words printed on T-shirts, here’s a story that might have almost slipped under your radar.
File this one under “They’re not serious, right?”

Sadly, it seems that they are:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has instructed a TV advert depicting angels falling from heaven because they are attracted to a man’s deodorant, to be withdrawn, as it could offend Christians.

A viewer who complained to the ASA about the advert said the suggestion that angels (God’s messengers) would literally fall for a man wearing this deodorant was incompatible with his belief as a Christian, according to the ruling by the ASA’s directorate made on October 14. A copy of the ruling was sent to Sapa.

The advert for Axe deodorant depicts winged, attractive women crashing to earth in what appears to be an Italian town, and then being drawn towards and sniffing a young man who has used the deodorant. The text at the end of the ad reads: “Even angels will fall”.

Oh dear. Can I say that this decision is incompatible with my belief as an Atheist? Probably not, since that seems to count for very little. But it is incompatible. Wholly incompatible.
And this incompatibility is made worse by the detail given for the ASA descision to ban the ad:

The directorate was concerned that the angels were depicted falling and, secondly, being attracted to a mortal man.

“As such, the problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires. This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant.”

Firstly, since when has there ever been a problem with individuals falling in adverts? Are we now going to ban all ads which depict falling of any kind? The baby landing bum first on the bog roll? The woman parachuting despite it being “that time of the month”? Absolutely anything and everything for Elastoplast?

These are angels, for crying out loud. They’ll be fine, because – like the ASA point out – they’re immortal, see? Yep: in this ruling, the ASA has drawn a distinction between angels and their “heavenly status” and us mere mortals. In essence, they are suggesting that they believe that angels exist and that those angels have heavenly status, which they infer, confers immortality. Er… Halo?!?!

That single complainant, of course, is well within his rights to be offended and to complain. However, I do find it strange that despite this advert flighting across much of (predominantly Christian) Europe and the (predominantly Christian) United States, together with a host of add-ons such as the amazing augmented reality stunt at Victoria station, that he is the only Christian to be offended by this. As far as I can see, there have been no other instances of any part of this campaign being banned anywhere else in the world.
Even in the “nanny state” UK or the “sue now, ask questions later” US: no ban.

Could it then be that it is the complainant that is being over-sensitive rather than the advert that is being potentially offensive?

However, this is what we are going to have to accept going forward. When people choose to be offended at the slightest thing, the slightest thing becomes offensive.
Foschini group are taking t-shirts off shelves because a few loud people disagree with the wording on the front.
But does the juvenile legend “I put the STD in STUD – all I need is U”, really imply that the wearer is going to go all out to try and contract herpes virus from everyone he sees in an effort to appear more manly? Do you honestly believe that?
Do you think that when I wear a Nike t-shirt, I’m constantly Just Doing “It”, whatever “It” may be? Really?

I don’t envy the ASA, walking the fine line between the normal population and the often unnecessarily mouthy minorities. But when they make decisions like this one, they provide ammunition and impetus for more trivial complaints and they’re on a slippery slope.

15 thoughts on “ASAholes…

  1. would be funny if nandos did a parody ad… with a chicken angel (with wings) wearing the STD STUD t-shirt. i’m probably not going to heaven now, am i?

  2. anib > You would only have fallen back down at the first sniff of my armpit anyway.
    (Hmm. That didn’t quite come out right…)

  3. Oddly, I was just quietly raging at that little group of feminists over that tshirt thing. Good to know that women can wear what they want and not be labeled a whore (wasn’t that the point of the slutwalk thingums?) but god forbid a dude has a shirt with a crappy slogan on it.

    As for the angel thing…I’ve already used up my rations of disbelief at silly decisions for the week. The ASA really needs to move that fine little line back a bit lest they become a thing of ridicule…oh, wait.

  4. Hang on – *one* complaint and an ad gets withdrawn? Isn’t there some kind of threshold that needs to be reached?

    In that case, wish I’d thought of complaining about that bloody Vodacom is Red campaign – could offend colour-blind people, right?

  5. @T: the point of the slutwalk was that you can dress like a slut and not get raped. you could still be called a whore though. (yay democracy!)
    and if the dude wore some axe… well, no one would care what tshirt he was wearing. *falls helplessly*

  6. The Christians (and ASA) missed a very valid and serious point:

    How do they not know that the male in the advertisement is actually Jesus who returned to earth (as he DID promised), and that the angels followed him?

    And why cant a modern-day-Jesus not use deodorant?

    From a spiritual point of view, what this advertisement conveys on a higher level, is that the Christians AGAIN does not (and never will) recognize Jesus — probably because he is using deodorant this time around.

  7. Brilliant comments especially Carl’s. The whole thing is laughable. 🙂 Would not be surprised if Nando’s did a follow up!!

  8. @Carl Botha – deodrant is anti-christian cause that’s not how the angels made us. also angels actually appear in the form of men (i googled it) so this ad is secretly pro-gay as well by hiding its true intentions behind some hot models. it’s also anti-non-model chicks. /rant

  9. I wish I had time to draw up complaints. I am in the mood to be spiteful at these idiots.

    I would like to ban churches from advertising on billboards my hellward motion as an atheist.
    I would like to ban adverts that portray women as more capable or clever than men. Knorr, I’m looking at you!
    I would like to ban Red Bull- how dare they draw a cartoon in which a bird defecates on a human!

    FFS. Humour- get a sense of it!

  10. Or perhaps the truth is much simpler — these Angel-Virgins prefer a local boy (with deodorant) above the blown-to-pieces-Islam-boytjies.

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