An advertisement for a hair salon in England that makes a joke about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has been deemed acceptable by the United Kingdom's major advertising watchdog organization.
The ad, which was created by the Bristol-based chain of Barber Brown's hair salons, features the image of Jesus in a white robe with his hands outstretched and a light glowing all around him. "He is coming...Better get your hair done!" the ad states.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the independent organization that regulates advertising in the U.K., says the ad was brought to its attention after two complaints were filed against it. One complainant said the ad implies that Jesus judges people based on their looks, while the other said it is offensive to make a joke out of the Second Coming of Christ.
But Barber Brown's told the ASA that the ad isn't anything new – they've been using it for over three years in a variety of formats – and says the response to it has been "overwhelmingly positive," the final judgment posted to the ASA's website states. Their intention, the salon said, was to be humorous and unique, not offensive.
In their defense, Barber Brown's stated that flyers featuring the ad were even made available in a local church. The ASA declared Wednesday that the ad did not violate the "harm and offense" rule of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code.
"We acknowledged that some people might find the ad distasteful," the ASA assessment reads. "However, we considered that most consumers would understand that it was a light-hearted take on the biblical story rather than a mockery of Christian belief. Because we considered that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offense, we concluded that it had not breached the Code."
Jesus has been used by a number of notable companies over the course of the last year to advertise their products, but not without controversy.
Last September the ASA banned an advertisement for Phones4U, a UK-based mobile phone retailer. "Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones," said the ad, which also depicted a smiling, winking Jesus who was giving a thumbs-up in approval. The ad was banned after 98 complaints were filed against it.
In March of this year, a Red Bull energy drink commercial starring Jesus was pulled from South African television after Christians said it was offensive. In the ad, Jesus steps out of a boat and walks on water. One of his disciples attributes the miracle to Red Bull before Jesus corrects him and says, "There is no miracle here! You just have to be smart and find the rocks to step on."
In both instances the companies said their intention was to create a light-hearted ad, not to mock Jesus.