Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has been forced to withdraw an advertising campaign featuring Jesus and the apostles gambling at the Last Supper following a large volume of complaints and a bonanza of free publicity both in Ireland and overseas.
|The Paddy Power campaign showing Jesus with poker chips, apostles playing cards - The company's most optimistic expecations of free publicity have been realised and it would hardly be a surprise if it has another "shocking" surprise under wraps. |
The billboard posters, emblazoned with the slogan "There's a place for fun and games", adapted Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting of the Bibical story of the Last Supper, shows Jesus with a stack of poker chips and other apostles playing cards and roulette.
The Advertising Standards Authority said today it had received more than 100 complaints: "as many as we've had about anything in the past".
More than 00 objections were made directly to Paddy Power.
Frank Goodman, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority, said the advertisements had breached a combination of guidelines referring to taste and decency as well as religion. "There's also a general provision that ads should contain nothing that is likely to cause grave or widespread offence - this apparently has caused widespread offence," he said.
Paddy Power has taken down its Last Supper posters around Dublin and replaced them with ones reading: "There's a place for fun and games. Apparently this isn't it."
The adverts have brought the company a level of publicity valued at a multiple of its campaign cost.
A spokesman for Paddy Power said the campaign was intended to play off "the unique Irish sense of humour" and expressed disappointment at the decision.
"We still don't believe we've pushed the boundaries too far," he said. "Some people just take this stuff too seriously," he added.
Paddy Power no doubt took the campaign very seriously too and had its replacement posters at the ready following the widespread publicity boon!
The campaign is not the only religious theme to spark controversy.
Last week electronics giant Sony had to apologise for an advert for the 10th anniversary of its PlayStation console which featured a man wearing a crown of thorns and the slogan “Ten years of passion.”
|Sony's Italian advert stirred up the passion of Catholics. Italian fashion house Benetton has been to the forefront in using "shock" ads such as one featuring a new-born baby and another featuring a man dying of AIDS.|
A campaign by French fashion designer Francois Girbaud, in another adaptation of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, showed Jesus as a woman with a table of glamorous apostles.