ASA ruling against Red Bull – those complaints in full

I really don’t want to get into this, but I absolutely had to share the complaints against the Red Bull “Jesus walks on water ad” (you can watch it here), as submitted to the SA ASA.

It’s comedy gold!

The complainant submitted, in essence, that:

  • The commercial is offensive as it makes a mockery of Jesus Christ by portraying Him in a blasphemous manner. Peripheral arguments to the allegation of offence relate to the fact that the commercial implies that the miracle of Jesus walking on water was all a sham.
  • Christians believe that Jesus Christ is alive and sitting at the right hand of God and as such His express permission should have been obtained before being featured in the commercial (in accordance with certain provisions of the Code).
  • The advertiser should apologise publicly and should be fined as well to indicate the level of offence caused.
  • Creates a bad example for children.
  • Its misleading as it creates an impression that the product existed during the time that Jesus Christ lived.

Yes, the first point initially suggesting that Jesus’ walking on water was not a sham, the second point then actually argues that Red Bull should have got Jesus’ “express permission” before featuring him (“Him” – whatever) in an advertisement.

How would one go about doing that? Presumably via your local church? Or through “Healing” Pastor Chris? Surely a verbal agreement would not be enough – some form of documentation would have to be signed by both parties. How many Christians have got Jesus’ autograph? None? Why on earth not?

And then point five? “…it creates an impression that the product existed during the time that Jesus Christ lived”?

Well, in point two, you just told us he (“He”) is still alive, so what’s with using the past participle? And if he (“He”) is still alive and I can buy a Red Bull (and I can), then the product does exist during the time that Jesus Christ lived… lives… lived… oh… whatever.

Contradiction much?

I do agree with point four though. Stepping out of fishing boats into the Sea of Galilee and expecting to be able to walk on water does set a very bad example for children by suggesting that people can walk on water.

They can’t, that’s all a sham.

AXE Press Release

I don’t normally do these, but this one is neat and I’m still riled from yesterday’s post:

27 October 2011

AXE Apology For “Fallen Angels” Advert

On the 26th October, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) passed a ruling upholding a consumer complaint against our latest TV advert and ordered the commercial pulled from the air. The advert, showing Angels succumbing to the seductive smell of our new fragrance, AXE Excite, and falling to earth to pursue the great smelling AXE Man, was part of a global campaign and has been received with great enthusiasm around the world. The Angels have made quite an impact in South Africa, and popular news, content and social media portals were quick to report on the ruling.

AXE South Africa respects the ASA’s decision and apologises to any consumers who may have been offended by the advert. That was never our intention. The advert has been duly removed from mass broadcast and we have resorted to showcasing some international versions of the advert on our private brand channels, including, where consumers opt-in for the type of tongue-in-cheek, sexy and sometimes edgy content AXE is known for.

As a show of good faith to those concerned, we have also made sure the seriousness of the matter is understood by our Angels, who will from now on try their very best to resist the seductive powers of The AXE Effect. To those AXE Men who have used, and who are continuing to use AXE Excite in the hope of seducing Angels, please note – whilst there is no individual danger of disciplinary action from the ASA, the Angels have been known to come in at quite a speed, and the use of AXE Excite is completely at your own risk.

Nice work from


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 I 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.