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Menulog parody of Da Vinci’s Last Supper cleared of denigrating Christanity

Complaints suggesting Menulog’s commercial which parodied Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper vilified and denigrated Christianity have been dismissed by the ad watchdog.

The spot which promotes online takeaway and home delivery services website Menulog, sees Jesus and his disciples discussing what to have for dinner, with Thai and Indian dismissed before Jesus suggests pizza, which the group proceed to order via menulog before being told to pose by a frustrated da Vinci.

Complaints to the Advertising Standards Board (ASB) argued the ad depicted Jesus and his disciples in an offensive manner, and the ad was offensive and distasteful, stating: “I was extremely offended by the fact that they were depicting Jesus and his disciples in such  an offensive way for a fast food delivery service. I don’t think this sort of advertising should be permitted on TV.

“I am offended by the ad portraying without any doubt, Jesus and his disciples at the Last  Supper, trying to figure out what they should eat and then go on Menulog.com.au to look at their options and then decide on pizza. The Last Supper was a very significant event and as a  Christian I am highly offended. Why is it always Christian events and symbols being mocked,  and a mockery this is indeed. Very disappointed with the advertiser.”

Complaints also suggested that if the spot had featured other religious icons the reaction would have been worse.

It added: “The use of religion isn’t appropriate. Using Jesus in such a way is offensive to not just  Christians. The last supper is a sacred moment in the life of Christians. If other religious icons had ever been used there would be uproar.

“Do I really need to explain this! It is absolutely offensive and distasteful that such an advert  is allowed on screen. As part of this society I find that it offends deeply my respect and belief  in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such religious themes should not be used to promote products  especially in this manner. One questions what would happen if Mohammed was depicted in such a manner during an advert!”

Menulog defended the spot, claiming the brand has a “history of fun, tongue in cheek, comedy oriented advertising from talking dogs and fridges”.

The brand disputed the complaints that the ad discriminates Christianity or vilified Christians, arguing: “It does not speak ill of Christianity, the characters it portrays or the events that took place at the Last Supper. Our comedic intent in the TVC was to create a moment in history and art, that our target  audience would be aware of.”

Menulog also argued the image of Lenoardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper has been parodied “countless times”, citing TV shows The Simpson and That 70’s Show as exampled.

“The mere use of such a moment does not itself discriminate against or vilify any person or  belief,” it argued.

In its ruling, the board noted “that whilst the central character is clearly intended to be Jesus this name is not actually used and the reference to a miracle is in relation to the quick arrival of the pizzas rather than any actions performed by the Jesus character”.

The board also noted “that the Last Supper as told in the Bible is different to the scene used in the advertisement and considered that by using a set-up which is well-known as the artist Leonardo Da Vinci’s interpretation of the Last Supper and depicting a painter asking the men to pose, the most likely interpretation is that the advertisement is depicting Da Vinci painting his masterpiece using actors to represent Biblical characters rather that the advertisement depicting the actual Last Supper itself”.

While the board acknowledged that some members of the community would “find the use of a key Biblical event which links to the sacraments to be disrespectful”, the majority of the board considered that the ad did not “undermine the concept of the sacraments and and that by using an image of someone painting the Last Supper the advertisement is not undermining a central tenet of the Christian faith”.

It also said the ad does not denigrate Christianity or Christians “and is using a humorous play on a well-known Biblical story with no reflection of the beliefs underpinning the scene”, dismissing the complaint.

 

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