UK Bans Ice Cream Ad Featuring Pregnant Nun

It’s not surprising that some people might be a bit offended by an ad that tries to sell ice cream by using a photo of a pregnant nun. What is surprising is that the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has actually banned the ad for fear of ticking off Catholics.

Here’s how the ASA explains its decision to nix the ad, which shows a nun chowing down on Antonio Federici ice cream and features the slogan “immaculately conceived”:

We considered the use of a nun pregnant through immaculate conception was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics.

We concluded that to use such an image in a lighthearted way to advertise ice cream was likely to cause serious offence to readers, particularly those who practised the Roman Catholic faith.

Not exactly pleased with the ASA’s ruling, Federici says it’s planning on unleashing an even more offensive ad for when the Pope visits London later this week. The company plans to slap up the new posters near Westminster Abbey, where the pontiff will be on Friday.

“We are in the process of securing a series of billboards close to and along the planned route of the Pope’s cavalcade around Westminster Cathedral,” said a rep for the UK-based company.

A rep for ASA countered that its rulings “must be followed and we are taking steps to ensure Antonio Federici do so… We do not comment on the likely compliance of ads that have not yet appeared. However, we are continuing to conduct work behind the scenes, including with the advertiser, to ensure they comply with the rules.”

Pregnant nun ice cream advert banned for ‘mockery’ [BBC]


Edit Your Comment

  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Is it banned because it’s sexist to think that pregnant women crave things like ice cream?

  2. chaesar says:

    maybe shes just fat from all the ice cream

  3. Dre' says:

    Gutless cowards.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I am a pretty lassaiz-faire guy about controversial ads and VMA dresses and whatnot. I enjoy good humor and making fun of silly things like immaculate conception. But man, did they really go out of their way to piss people off!

  5. beprof says:

    Theology pet peeve…

    “Immaculate Conception” has nothing to do with the Virgin Birth. That’s part of the doctrine of the Incarnation, something that pretty much all Christians share.

    Immaculate Conception refers to the uniquely Roman Catholic notion that Mary was conceived without Original Sin.

    So not only is the ad (arguably) offensive to Catholics, they didn’t even bother to do the 30 seconds worth of research on Wikipedia to get their terms right.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s offensive to me because it assumes sex is a sin. The original sin. Which is ironic because we were all given form through the “original” sin.

      Gotta love the catholics. We all came into this world through an evil act, and have to spend the rest of our lives making up for it.

      • heltoupee says:

        You need to do some more reading. should help. Please actually understand someone’s beliefs before you go bashing them. Moron.

        Once you understand our beliefs, and are able to bash them correctly, by all means, carry on.

        • ThisChocobo says:

          We understand you’re a master of theology and all but Is it really necessary to call people morons?

        • c!tizen says:

          So isn’t it part of your beliefs to forgive those who “trespass” against you? You know, “turn the other cheek”. So how does your belief tie in with calling someone a “moron”? I thought one of the points behind religion was to teach tolerance, minus, of course, all of those wars fought in the name of Christianity and all. Killing is fine as long it’s for a good cause.

          You are a truly inspiring [insert religion of choice here].

          Which reminds me, do you go for the old testament version of the story or the new one? I only ask because god was vengeful in the old one and Jesus was a mortal man, but that didn’t fly well so they changed things up a little for the new testament, or “god part II” as I like to call it. I’m always curious to know which book practicing Christians like better.

          • jessjj347 says:

            People can do whatever they want in the name of Christianity but it doesn’t mean it’s in the name of Christ.

          • minneapolisite says:

            We are called to forgive repentant sinners. We are not called to tell them their sh** doesn’t stink.

          • banmojo says:

            God as portrayed in the OT is actually much much more understanding and forgiving/merciful than you realize, and God as portrayed in the NT has a far more ethics/justice oriented backbone than you give Him credit for. Have you REALLY read both books, cover to cover? Pondered them a while? Went back and re-read sections? Kind of like how we study from our school textbooks when learning a subject matter well enough that we can argue its merits/weaknesses? Somehow I doubt it. Which makes your ramblings … well, just uneducated ramblings.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          I’m a minister, and I approve this comment.

        • Skankingmike says:

          I’d like to bash you guys one more time.

          How does a religion justify that all people born are born in the the world in sin and must be cleansed through a water ritual?

          I think the original concept of being baptized in adulthood like Jesus was would have been a bit more realistic in “cleaning” ones sin.

    • heltoupee says:

      Thank you. I was just explaining this in my post. However, nowhere in the ad does it try to tie this pregnant nun to the Virgin Birth. I think they just heard “immaculate conception” from a church friend, thought they’d play some tounge-in-cheek word games with it, and went too far with the imagery.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think people should be more offended that the ad implies that she’s eating her baby (like you said, they got the theology wrong), since it’s the ice cream that is supposedly immaculately conceived.

  6. ALP5050 says:

    The UK must be an awful place to live.

  7. Liam Kinkaid says:

    I find their taking offense at this ad to be offensive and demand they retract it. And I want ice cream.

  8. rdclark says:

    Mockery is the last resort of the unimaginative.

  9. ShruggingGalt says:

    I guess the Machete poster with Lindsay Lohan as a machine gun toting Nun is out too, huh?

  10. wiggie2gone says:

    I will not say if this ad is good or bad until I taste the ice cream.

    /this is where Antonio Federici ice cream contacts me and sends me ice cream

  11. humphrmi says:

    I’ve always been amazed that the UK has laws against “causing offence” and they take them very seriously. Larry Flint would never survive there.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      Only under certain circumstances. It’s certainly less OK to piss off some groups than others there. Standards aren’t applied universally by any means.

  12. rpm773 says:

    In all the ensuing hilarity, it appears someone forgot that the mission statement is “sell ice cream” and not “offend a lot of people”

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Instead, it was merely a mishap at the print shop…

  13. heltoupee says:

    Being Catholic myself, I would say that, yes, this is fairly offensive. Also, being human, I can see that it is being done in jest, and I would not be “seriously offended”. It’s being done to raise visibility through viral marketing techniques. No such thing as bad press, etc.

    GitEm$teveDave perfectly illustrates this next point in his first post in this thread: there aren’t many folks out there that are not of the Catholic faith that are going to understand the reference to the immaculate conception, because I think we are the only faith that still believes in it. Quick lesson for those who don’t know — the immaculate conception refers to when Mary was concieved. It’s targetted at Catholics and constructed in a way to offend them. Just a “look at me” stunt, nothing more.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      Agreed. I was raised Catholic, not really practicing anymore, but I see the offense of this. Not to the extent that I want to bomb an ice cream factory (also sacrilegious to an ice cream lover), but enough that if I ever saw that brand of ice cream, I would certainly buy something else.

      It seems stupid to try to sell your ice cream by pissing off a significant portion of the world population (something north of a billion people, if Wikipedia can be trusted).

      • Doncosmic says:

        Yea, but the vast majority of Catholics live in poverty in Latin America. The vast majority of Europe does not practice any religion. Also this was in the UK, and they there aren’t many Roman Catholics at all in the UK.

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          And the internet couldn’t possibly spread this kind of word. Catholics will boycott movies if they think that they are offensive, I am pretty sure that they would also spread the word to skip this brand of ice cream just as easily.

  14. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    So a stupid ruling is going to lead a stupider tantrum?

    Lots of stupid going around, it seems!

  15. KyleOrton says:

    I think their planned reaction is ill conceived. They seem to be taking a shot at the Pope when they should be taking shots at the ad board. The Pope has probably never seen the ad and it’s in the Catholics’ best interests to just ignore it.

  16. sufreak says:

    I think the Catholic connection comes from the nun, not the immaculately conceived part. As a non-christian, I don’t care. As a human being, I think its funny.

    Being PC is going overboard. I want a meat tuxedo!

  17. sir_eccles says:

    At which point the Ad man sits back and says to his client “See, I told you it would work”.

    For those that don’t realize, there is a long history of companies intentionally getting ads banned in the UK.

  18. minneapolisite says:

    They should have just used an image of the Virgin Mary. As a Catholic, I could get behind that. :)

    • manus manum lavat says:

      I could get behind that, too; at least if it were a picture of the Virgin Mary it would make sense, seeing as “Immaculate Conception” is one of her titles. As the ad is currently, it’s just a jumble that doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

  19. brianisthegreatest says:

    Hey I thought last week we were sensitive to people’s religious beliefs; or is that only when they have groups of people that like to blow themselves and other people up. Someone care to elaborate?

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      There is actually still a lot of anti-Catholic prejudice in the UK but British Catholics (aside from those in Northern Ireland) don’t have a history of blowing themselves or others up. So they are a “safe” target.

  20. MaliBoo Radley says:

    It’s always important to remember that the UK does not have the same free speech protections that we have here in the US.

    I think the more interesting thought is that even though we have that protection, I’d bet dollars to donuts that an ad like that would be pulled in this country as well. People would get all manner of pissy. Meh.

    • jessjj347 says:

      I don’t think that running commercials really has to do with free speech. For example, there are laws against certain types of commercials in the U.S.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I doubt that very much. I’d bet the vast overwhelming majority of Americans wouldn’t even give it a second thought. I wasn’t in the slightest bit offended. Should Joe Montana and Jerry Rice be called heretics for their “immaculate reception”? I think not! ;^)

  21. Disappointed says:

    Well, if a nun got pregnant, then she would not be able to abort it. And she would not be able to avoid getting pregnant, even, because she couldn’t use birth control.

  22. CookiePuss says:

    They should’ve added a photo of a winking prophet Muhammad in the background giving the nun a massage and watch the fireworks fly. Why be half assed with your blasphemy?

    The ice cream looks divine though.

  23. PSUSkier says:

    Bad taste? Yes. A reason to grab your pitchforks, ropes and torches? No, not really.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Come now, after the simple joys of being in a village riot, you would know that you don’t really NEED a reason.

  24. Bodger says:

    So I guess the follow-up advert featuring the trouserless priest offering Federeci ice cream to the choir boys is right out then?

  25. RayanneGraff says:

    Anything that mocks religious people is A-OK in my book.

  26. manus manum lavat says:

    I’m a Catholic, but the reason this ad offends me is because it’s really poorly thought-out. A pregnant nun eating ice-cream that’s “immaculately conceived”? Huh? Why does she have to be pregnant in this scenario? Is it because she’s carrying ice cream in her uterus?! Really, Ice cream manufacturer? Really? When we think of ice cream, you want us to think of a uterus? It’s almost like having an ice cream advert that shows a picture of an unwashed cow’s udder and forces us to contemplate where all dairy comes from. “When you think of our ice cream, think of bodily functions.”

  27. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Eff the Catholics. Reckon any of them would have complained if the ad made fun of Muslims? Or Mormans? Or Moonies?

    Religious stupidity fail.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      No, if it offended the Muslims, there would be death threats.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Who says there won’t be death threats from Catholics?

        …or Protestants?

        Sinn Fein, anyone? IRA?

        Stupid is as stupid does. And stupid frequently goes on holy wars.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      The Mormans would have complained. The Muslims would have complained and some factions would have threatened to kill the ad exec that thought it up. And the Moonies, well, I have no idea what they would do. It makes no sense for a Catholic to take offense on behalf of someone else (though it is done quite often, I am sure!).

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      I always hear of the Catholic church being offended by movies and such. The entire world doesn’t have to abide by their morality rules. I suppose this is because the church is gigantic and somebody, somewhere is going to be offended by just about anything. Islam is also a very large religion and constantly complaining. As for the Mormons you mention, there is the Wasatch Brewing Company always poking fun.
      I always got a kick out of their ads, but our family friend Owen was offended mostly because alcohol is forbidden, not the plural wives part.

  28. BleedBlueinFla says:

    So… I guess my ad pitch of the Pope in an ice cream truck handing out ice cream to a neighborhood full of little boys was tossed in favor of this… When will Antonio Federici ever learn?

  29. NorthJersey says:

    And just who are the Advertising Standards Authority? Are they a voluntary-compliance body or an arm of the government? What teeth do they have? Could an advertiser just say “up yours” and put up whatever they want? Frankly that’s precisely what I’d do if I was in their position.

  30. H3ion says:

    “Agnes of God” comes to mind. Also, for those who were around during the early ’70s, there was a poster of a very pregnant African American woman with the caption “Nixon’s the One.” The ice cream poster resembles that a bit.

  31. prismatist says:

    I thought hating Christians in general and Catholics in particular was the last acceptable prejudice.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      Yes, it is. At least it is in America, on the Internet.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      You still have white men you can mock, we are still fair game last I checked.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        You can get away with it with any race as long as you tell the people you’re offending that racism doesn’t exist anymore.

        They aren’t going to buy it of course but you’ll get enough other people on your side that it won’t matter.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      You forgot people who are overweight and anyone who isn’t heterosexual.

  32. usversusthem says:

    The title of the post is misleading. “UK Bans…” suggests that the ASA is a government agency whose decisions have the force of law. As I understand it, that’s not the case. Instead, it’s a self-regulatory body set up by the advertising industry.

  33. Woodside Park Bob says:

    Thank God … well, actually, thank the wisdom of the founding fathers … for the First Amendment. We can practice or offend any religion we like.

  34. nacoran says:

    Considering the history of the Magdalene Laundries I’d say this more or less hits the nail on the head, except I doubt they served ice cream to the girls they were using as slave labor.

  35. Gulliver says:

    What is offensive is the catholics are allowed to advertise and sell their product. They expect people to believe this dude was born and his mother was a virgin. His dad was god, and got Mary preggers. Of course being a good father he didn’t marry the mother, or help her raise him (maybe god is in the NBA). Then the dude dies BUT comes back to life three days later. In his time on earth he walks on water, turns his blood into wine, and his body into a cracker. God supposedly all powerful lets his son die instead of preventing it. If god wanted people to believe this crazy story AND he is all powerful, why wouldn’t he make everybody christian? Oh wait, you mean religous storiees are fables made up by men? Oh shit, who knew.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      There’s actually a little more to it than that. I recommend reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, if you ever were moved to understand why we believe what we believe. Or you could just continue to mock those whose convictions are mysterious to you.

  36. Charmander says:

    “immaculately conceived” ?

    Is it made of human flesh?

  37. KittensRCute! says:

    its a shame they didnt take priests molesting children as seriously.