Round-up of the week’s odd marketing stories

  • Anti-Religion ad banned: Last month the South African Advertising Standards Authority banned an ad from a church for claiming miracles, this month UK’s ASA banned posters from the British Humanist Association asking people to check the “No Religion” box on census forms. The reason? They had the “potential to cause widespread and serious offence.”
  • 575-pound spokesman for Heart Attack Grill dies: ‘Heart Attack Grill is an unabashedly unhealthy restaurant – the menu consists of huge burgers, milkshakes and fries cooked in lard – and having such a big man as a spokesman was part of its tongue in cheek “glorification of obesity.”’
  • LA Clippers celebrate Black History month after Black History month ends: Not surprising really. As AdFreak points out “given [team owner Donald] Sterling’s standing as a poster boy for racial intolerance and bigotry, I’m amazed he missed it by only two days. By all accounts, this meathead is about as racially progressive as Archie Bunker. This is a guy who paid $2.73 million in 2009 to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed he discriminated against blacks and Hispanics when renting apartments in L.A.”
  • Del Monte unveils individually plastic wrapped …bananas. In case that wasn’t silly enough, the company claims the biodegradable wrappers are part of a “green initiative.”
  • Aussie schools sell booze for fundraising:  “The Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD) has written to every school principal in the country asking them to reconsider the sale, use and promotion of alcohol products when raising money. In the open letter, chairman Dr John Herron said there were concerns students were being used as "couriers" between school and home for advertising material, forms and payments for alcohol as part of fundraising activities.”
  • Church banned from advertising miracles

    No MiraclesSouth Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority has told The Christ Embassy Church to stop making claims on national television that it can treat diseases such as AIDS through faith healing. “The ruling came after the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), South Africa’s main HIV/AIDS lobby group, filed a complaint against the church, which has paid programming on the private e.tv channel featuring people recounting how they have been cured by Christ Embassy.”

    How would the ASA rule on other miracles? Can a church say that it will provide you eternal salvation? Forgive your sins? Make you one with the universe? Have interesting sermons? Once you get rid of miracles what else does a religion have to sell?

    Really, if the US stopped companies from advertising miracles it would kill the beer and diet commercials immediately. It wouldn’t stop there, either. Any number of film directors would no longer be able to claim their movies were “good.”

    The other fascinating thing in this is, “What is a commercial?” What if a religion simply broadcast religious services? This is a very germane question. Last year,

    the ASA ruled that the content of the Christ Embassy television show was not an advertisement, but sponsored programming, and it therefore did not have jurisdiction over its content. The TAC then appealed, which led to the ASA ruling that found the programme to be: an advertisement, as defined by ASA’s code; promoting faith as a means to cure illness or disease; promoting Christ Embassy as the place to seek this cure, and; violating ASA’s code because it offers a product to cure a disease for which it has not received Medicines Control Council registration.

    The church would be appealing on the grounds that the television programme was not an advertisement and that the church did not intend registering with the Medical and Dental Council. "The product is called faith," [Attorney Sean] Sim told the Mail & Guardian.

    Art by Nathan Coley

    Is a Disney-brand Muslim headscarf on the way?

    Disney-Princess-Jasmine3 Imane Boudlal has a problem: She is a member of two of the world’s largest religions — Islam and Disney. This became an issue in her life when, several months prior to Ramadan, the Disney World employee asked if she could wear a headscarf in observation of the month-long religious celebration. This was kicked up the chain of command and Disney corporate came back two months later and told her

    told she could wear a head scarf, but it had to be designed by Disneyland’s costume department to comply with the Disney look, Qazi said. She was fitted for a Disney-supplied head scarf but was not given a date when the garment would be finished and was told she couldn’t wear her own hijab in the interim.

    On Sunday – five days after Ramadan began, Ms. Boudlal showed up to work wearing her own hajib which was notably devoid of anything Mouse-ish. Ms. Boudlal’s job requires her to deal with the public and so her supervisors reportedly gave her the option of removing the hajib, going home or working in a behind the scenes position for the month.

    As much as it pains me to do this, I have to side with Disney on this one. They are nothing if not consistent when it comes to employees wearing symbols of competing religions. My resident expert, Mrs. CollateralDamage, confirms that Mousers can’t wear crosses, yarmulkes, saffron robes, or pins saying “Scientology? YES!” on the job (or at least when their job involves working with the public). Above right: Disney’s standard way of depicting Arabic women.

    Say it with me folks: “Thou shalt have no Mouse before me for I am a jealous Mouse.”

    Still, I love the idea of Disney-designed religious clothing.

    That said, allow me to make a few other points about Islamic issues in the news lately.

    Wow. I defended Disney and slammed France in the same post. Clearly I am getting the flu that Mrs. CD & CDjr. already have.

    Stores nailed for selling Jesus-branded cosmetics

    JC bath soapComplaints from irate Catholics (is that a new denomination?) have forced a chain of stores in Singapore to pull all of the “Lookin’ Good For Jesus” line of cosmetics.

    Nick Chui, 27, a Catholic, spotted the items in a Topshop outlet and then wrote a letter to [its owners] saying that the products trivialised Jesus Christ and Christianity. “There are also sexual innuendoes in the messages and the way Jesus is portrayed in these products,” the Singapore Straits Times quoted Chui as saying.

    The cosmetics and toiletries are made by the Massachusetts company Blue Q. The company is actually pretty catholic in its brands, which include “Wash Away Your Sins,” and “Cute as Hell.” They also make “Believe In God” & “Convert to Judaism” breath sprays and “Jesus Saves” & “Jesus Rocks” car air fresheners.

    We know He can turn water into wine, but can He turn controversy into sales.

    I’m always conflicted when it comes to the topic of religious humor. I know a bunch of Jesus jokes (that’s bad, right?) and I learned most of them from a priest (which makes them good, right?). For reasons I am still unclear on, a lot of them involve JC playing golf.

    Not all, however.

    Jesus walks into a hotel, places three nails on the counter and says, “Can you put me up for the night?”

    That’s bad.

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    Jesus is still hot … in chocolate, plastic, CDs and Elvis

    In case you had any doubts JC the First is still a bankable concept for moving product.

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