Phone Firm Rapped For 'Jesus Thumbs-Up' Ad

A phone company's advertisement featuring a cartoon picture of Jesus winking and giving a thumbs-up sign has been banned for being "disrespectful".

The ruling against Phones 4u was made by the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The company, which brought out the advert just before Easter, showed Jesus with the Sacred Heart on his chest and the slogan "Miraculous deals on Samsung Galaxy Android phones".

The ASA said, while it realised the publicity was intended to be funny, its depiction of Jesus during the religious holiday "gave the impression that they were mocking and belittling core Christian beliefs".

"We therefore concluded that the ads were disrespectful to the Christian faith and were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians," the watchdog said.

A total of 98 people complained and Phones 4u admitted, with the benefit of hindsight, they "understood and regretted" that offence had been caused.

The adverts were withdrawn and the company sent individual apologies to those complained.