Businesses have been warned to ‘tread carefully’ with Easter-themed advertising and ensure that any religious references do not cause ‘serious or widespread offence’.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) have issued new guidance for organisations, asking them to keep in mind that ‘whilst Easter ads can be fun and entertaining, they must also be responsible’.
The watchdog explained that while there is nothing in the Advertising Codes that prevents advertisers from using references to religion to promote their products and services, it is important to exercise caution when doing so, particularly when it comes to respecting people’s faith and beliefs.
The guidance suggested that marketers ‘carefully consider the tone used’ and potentially consider research into the likelihood of causing ‘serious or widespread offence’ to followers of the faiths concerned.
‘Marketers are able to use religious language and imagery in their advertising, provided it is not mocking or disrespectful,’ the guidance explained.
‘While humour can sometimes help to reduce the likelihood of causing serious or widespread offence, the line when it comes to religion can often be very thin. You should therefore tread carefully and bear in mind that just because something might be considered funny by some – it will nevertheless be problematic if it offends a particular group,’ it added.
Picture: Easter eggs on sale at a Sainsbury’s supermarket in central London. (PA).