Via the Daily Telegraph:

South Africa’s advertising watchdog has banned a television commercial depicting angels falling from heaven because they are attracted to a man’s deodorant after a complaint from a Christian.The advertisement for Axe deodorant (known as Lynx in Britain) features winged, attractive women crashing to earth in an Italian town.

The scantily-clad women are then drawn towards a seemingly unremarkable man preparing to get on a moped. They regard their quarry lasciviously while sniffing the air before one by one smashing their halos and advancing towards him.

A voice-over says: “Excite, the new fragrance from Axe. Even angels will fall”.
A viewer who complained to South Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the suggestion that God’s messengers would literally fall for a mortal being because of a deodorant was incompatible with his belief as a Christian.

ASA agreed, and ordered Unilver SA, which sells Axe deodorants, to withdraw the advertisement.

“As such, the problem is not so much that angels are used in the commercial, but rather that the angels are seen to forfeit, or perhaps forego their heavenly status for mortal desires,” it said in a statement. “This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainant.”

Ah yes, the “right” not to be offended.


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6 Responses to “Offended”

  1. John says:

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget why we need the First Amendment, and then you read about something like this.

  2. jb says:

    You know, I looked up the commercial on YouTube, and I was offended! Or actually, more like embarrassed, to the point where I found it difficult to watch.

    For one thing, it bothers me when people offend other people’s religious beliefs out of sheer obliviousness. For example, I cringe when John Lennon’s Imagine is played at a public event as though it were some sort of universal human anthem, when in fact it is a direct attack on the cherished beliefs of many people in the crowd. If you want to attack people’s beliefs then fine, but you should be doing it on purpose!

    Second, I’m seeing more and more commercials that seem to be making the calculation that, no matter how absurdly exaggerated the promised benefits are, at some level the audience is going to believe and be influenced. (Another example would be those commercials where the truck is so tough that it survives things like a direct meteor strike). It’s presented as a joke, but they’re counting on us believing it anyway, and it bugs me that they think people can manipulate people that way. (It bugs me even more that they might be right!)

    Finally, whatever you may think about the truth value of Christianity, it has been central to Western Civilization for 2000 years. And now we have sexy angels falling out of the sky and apparently rejecting heaven so they can sniff some loser’s body wash? This is what our culture has come to? That’s just embarrassing!

  3. Steve says:

    I’m tempted to “reverse boycott” (is there an actual term for this?) Axe deodorant.

  4. Eric says:

    JB– The makers of the commercials are not trying to make you believe that their product will perform (or help you to perform) inhuman or otherwise unrealistic feats. They are merely entertaining you with their product. Sure, they are going for a particular positive emotional response from the viewer to connect with their product…but they are NOT trying to fool you into believing that their product will defy physics…or in this case astronomical science. It may seem like they are pushing some silly cause and effect (you buy axe deodorant and sexy female angels will fall from the sky), but believe me that isn’t the idea!

  5. Polichinello says:

    I’m tempted to “reverse boycott” (is there an actual term for this?) Axe deodorant.

    Axe is the deodorant of choice for the Ed Hardy and Tap Out crowd. It’s an olfactory indicator of an approaching douchebag.

  6. Acilius says:

    At various times there have been significant numbers of Christians who have believed that angels could fall from grace. The theologian Origen, writing in sometime around AD 230, speculated that at the instant of creation the angels had to decide whether to obey or to disobey God. Those who obeyed accompany God in Heaven, those who disobeyed were cast out and sent to Hell, while those who couldn’t make up their minds, to whom Origen gave the rather wonderful label angeli incerti (“undecided angels”,) were scheduled to be incarnated as human beings. According to Origen, angels are purely spiritual beings, not made of matter or animated by energy, so they have no location in space or time. Incarnated, they would be subject to time, and would thus have an opportunity to think over their decision.

    Origen was declared a heretic, but his writings were widely read throughout the Middle Ages and his influence crops up in some surprising places. So in Paradise Lost, when John Milton depicts the devil and his minions as angels who were cast out of heaven, he is following a long tradition. The Axe commercial might irritate believers for trivializing this tradition, though I can’t believe they would actually be offended on its behalf. It sounds more like a case of looking for something to fight over.

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