By Al Webb
c. 2011 Religion News Service
LONDON (RNS) A newspaper ad that showed a winking Jesus giving a thumbs-up sign to a line of cell phones has been given a thumbs-down by a British government watchdog panel that called it "disrespectful."
The Advertising Standards Authority, which governs media advertising, ruled that the phone ads cannot be used again because they appeared to mock Christian values.
The publicity campaign for Phones 4 U, which appeared in the British media last spring, depicted an image of Jesus under the slogan "Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones."
The advertising panel ruled that although the advertisements were "intended to be light-hearted and humorous," they instead left an entirely different message.
"Their depiction of Jesus winking and holding a thumbs-up sign, with the text 'miraculous' deals during Easter ... gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs," it said.
The authority said it had received 98 complaints about the ads.
The Phones 4 U firm argued that its intention was to show religion in "a light-hearted, positive and contemporary image," but it conceded the ads had caused offense.
Phones 4 U said the advertisements had been withdrawn and that letters of apology had been dispatched to people who had complained.