In Australia, Sacrilege Sells – UPDATED

In Australia, Sacrilege Sells – UPDATED May 31, 2013

In the ersatz world of Big Advertising, sex sells.  Apparently, so does outrageous blasphemy.

I just ran across this ad for the Australian spread AussieMite, depicting a young woman dipping a consecrated host into the brown paste, then offering it to the bishop.  “It’s sacrilicious!” the ad says.

The company describes its product as

“a delicious premium savoury spread, leading on taste, nutrition and the finest quality ingredients.  Yeast-based, non-GM and gluten-free, it re-defines a traditional staple for the 21st century.”

Sitting here on the other side of the world, I’m having trouble understanding why Grown-Ups, the Sydney advertising agency which produced this commercial, set out to deliberately offend God and 5.4 million Australian Catholics (25.3% of the population of that country).

Mick Hunter, the ad’s anti-Catholic creator, acknowledges the ad is intended to cause a stir, and hopes it will go viral. “We’re trying to track down [Cardinal] George Pell’s email,” Hunter explains, “and send it to him so he can blow it out of proportion.”

AussieMite’s director, Elise Ramsey, is a self-described Catholic.  She claims that no offense was intended, and that the ad played off the “topic of the moment,” the election of a new pope.  Ramsey said of the ad’s theme:

“We thought it was the topic of the moment. We wanted something that was a bit fun. It’s not in any way meant to be a strike against the Catholic Church. I’m Catholic and I don’t find it offensive. It’s simply meant to be a talking-piece. I hope that Australia finds it funny.”

Is this FUNNY?  Tell me what you think.


UPDATE:  AussieMite has apologized and pulled the offensive ad from their website, their Facebook page and other social media.  Read their apology and updates here.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Let me know when they dip the Quran in AussieMite. I’ll be impressed if they have the guts to cause that “stir”. ;-P Something tells me that would never be their means of going viral.

  • moseynon

    Apparently the ad will not air on television, and will depend on social media for attracting viewers. So creating a buzz is important. As Elise Ramsey, AussieMite marketing director, explained: “To go up against
    Vegemite in Australia and Marmite in the UK, we needed something that
    would get people talking and Grown-Ups delivered. We couldn’t afford to
    play it safe, so the brief was to get AussieMite noticed and show how
    tasty our product is.”

    I think it is unfortunate that they chose this route. However, there is a sizable number of disaffected Christians and ex-Christians in Australia and the UK. The marketing strategy will rely on word of mouth among this segment of the population to spread the video. Complaints by Catholics will only fuel interest in the video, which is why the Catholic Church in Australia is refusing to play that game. To quote Father Brian Lucas, general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops
    Conference: “It’s been done as a deliberate strategy to cause
    offence to maximise publicity for a product that has no other means of
    attracting an audience.”

  • Not funny, but judging from what I know of the Aussies it seems like something that would capture their attention. Like Dale explains below, I think the marketing strategy will work. Perhaps, and this is just a thought, it could have the unintended consequence of building some interest in the Catholic Church. It does take some knowledge of the Eucharest to understand the commercial and perhaps it will result in some people exploring or recalling their faith. The cynical will probably remain cynical but the uninformed may learn something and lead to some change of heart. God works in strange ways. May it be so.

  • LaniB

    Well they are getting negative feedback. The biggest two grocery chains in Australia are receiving complaints about the product and are considering taking it off their shelves. Being an Aussie and a Catholic I did find this offensive. They have now apologised on their facebook page, removed their ad off facebook and youtube and they say they are trying to delete all other references to it so for the bit of publicity they received they paid a lot for an ad that will have a very limited shelflife. In other Aussie news their person controlling their website when the complaints came decided to post articles about child abusing priests (name me any profession that has not had someone cross the line) and they are still telling everyone what a wonderful ethical company they are. Somehow I do not think its very ethical to mock someone else’s religious beliefs. I also agree with Scott, they will attack Catholisism but would not dream of attacking other religions

  • Tom

    They have posted a sort of apology up on their FB page, but have complicated matters with a new pic of their product in the confessional! I hope they go bust and retailers will toss their stuff. They have plans to expand to Europe and the USA so be on the alert.

  • Maggie Goff

    This does not upset me as much as Catholic institutions in the US paying for birth control, sterilizations, and abortions, and Catholics saying that doing so is just fine.