The ad is part of a new campaign by electric company Powershop, featuring the slogan “Same Power, Different Attitude.” Four-and-a-half story billboards went up in Auckland and Wellington, leading to four complaints to the ASA that the ad mocked Catholicism.
One such complaint, by a B. Pender, said the ad “is offensive to me as a Christian as it features two males exchanging rings as part of a marriage ceremony in the presence of The Pope…it is attempting to imply that the Catholic Church and The Vatican condone same sex marriage despite no formal communication of said claim.”
Of course, The Vatican and His Holiness have made resoundingly clear — time and time again — its position on same-sex marriage, but ASA spokesperson Jenny Robson said the ad was referring to the same-sex marriage bill before Parliament as a piece of legislation the Catholic Church opposed.
The bill recently passed its first reading and submissions are being heard by a select committee.
According to Robson, the ad also didn’t garner enough complaints to be said to cause widespread offense.
“It kind of reflects the feedback that we’ve got from the general public,” Powershop chief executive Ari Sargent told The New Zealand Herald. “Yes, there was some vocal opposition but, by in large, people saw it for what it was and didn’t find it particularly offensive.”
Sargent added that the company wanted to stimulate debate and “obviously” didn’t intend to offend anyone.
Powershop has a history of raising eyebrows with its advertising, including billboards featuring Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il performing charitable deeds.