Marston’s avoids wrist-slapping over Jesus ad accused of ‘trivialising Christianity’

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

No further action: Banks's beer brand cleared of causing offence
No further action: Banks's beer brand cleared of causing offence

Related tags Asa

Marston’s Banks’s beer brand has avoided a telling off from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the watchdog deemed a complaint made about a tweet containing religious imagery was not offensive.

A tweet showing an image of Jesus from the brand’s account on 12 April this year offended one person who complained to the ASA the brewer had “trivialised Christianity”.

The tweet said: “Easter is on it’s (sic) way #easter #beer #tellitlikeitis #Wolverhampton.”

Marstons Ad

Within the tweet was an image of a graffiti painting on a wall that showed Jesus wearing a rabbit costume with the outfit’s head resting on the bench next to him.

A basket of eggs sat below the bench, which had next to it a Banks’s beer-branded pint class that said: “BANKS’S TELL IT LIKE IT IS.”

Jesus in a rabbit costume

According to the complainant, the image of Jesus in a rabbit costume trivialised Christianity.

However, Marston’s told the ASA the picture was intended to highlight the commercialisation of Easter, which had prevailed over the traditional meaning of the festival and its message of the resurrection.

The brewer added it was intended to be pro-Christianity and did not seek to trivialise the faith. The pub operator and brewer said it was satisfied with the ASA's decision.

It was decided by the ASA not to uphold the complaint. The watchdog said: “The ASA noted that the tweet was posted during the Easter period and contained an image of Jesus wearing a rabbit costume.

“We acknowledged that the depiction of Jesus, and particularly the timing of the tweet, could be interpreted as distasteful by some people of a Christian faith. However, we considered that most people would not find the portrayal of Jesus to be mocking or derogatory.

“Because we considered that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, we concluded that it had not breached the code.

‘Innocent verdict’

“We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule (Harm and Offence), but did not find it in breach.”

Despite the innocent verdict, the ‘offending’ tweet cannot be found on Banks’s Twitter page.

The use of religious iconography by beer brands has drawn fire from faith groups and other critics in recent months.

One Spanish brewery apologised for offending those of the Hindu​ faith after depicting the deities Shiva, Kali, Ganesh and Hanuman on its beer bottles.

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