Representation in Advertising – Controversy

Rolling Stone Feb 2006

Rolling Stone Feb 2006

One way to pretty much guarentee controversy, is to depict religious icons, or religion in any way that could be consieved as negative.

The February 2006 issue of Rolling stone magazine, features Kanye West, promoting his album ‘Jesus Walks’. This cover caused controversy as West is depicted wearing a crown of thrones, bloody and wearing what appears to be a cloth robe. All of these depict the image of Jesus.

Having someone, already as controvercial as Kanye West, depicted as Jesus was always going to draw controvercy. Especially considering the stereotypical behaviour and lifestyle associated with a rapper. However, given the impression we are given of West, through the media, it isnt overly surprising he sees himself as a jesus type figure. When defending the image West said You want me to be great, but you don’t ever want me to say I’m great?”1

As someone how isn’t religious in any way at all, I don’t find this image offensive in a religious way. I do understand why people would, especially given Kanye West’s reputation. I do however find it funny, that he is so arrogant he puts himself on par with Jesus.  I think he knew the controversy it would cause, and it helped image helped with publicity.


Federici - ''Immaculately conceived"

Federici – ”Immaculately conceived”

The advertising campaign for Federici ice cream, also caused controversy for religious reasons. The images used to advertise the product, depict nuns and priests in various situations, posing sexually with each other, and another with a nun who is pregnant. The image that shows a heavily pregnant nun standing in a church holding a tub of ice cream and a spoon, with the text ‘”Immaculately conceived” and ”Ice cream is our religion”. After seeing the advert forty people complained that, “that it is offensive to Christians because it mocks the birth of Jesus.”2

The implication of the images, and with consumer’s knowledge of Christian beliefs, it is easy to see why the images were seen as offensive. The ASA noted that ”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.” 3

Personally I find the adverts to be humorous and not offensive, but yet again I am not a religious person. I agree with the company’s statement that the adverts were intended to, ”comment on and question, using satire and gentle humor, the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues”. 4


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