Immaculate Connotations

In 2010, this advertising piece (Antonio Federici) was banned in the United Kingdom.



The United Kingdom’s Advertising custodian, the “Advertising Standards Authority” deemed the image “was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics” (Advertising Standards Agency 2010). Based on that, the ad was banned. “The ad must not appear again in its current form.” (Advertising Standards Agency 2010) – Clearly, some thought it was offensive.

This blog isn’t here to discuss the appropriateness or political (in)correctness of this image.
This blog is here to discuss the different denotations & connotations associated with the image and images in general.

It’s denotations are a heavily pregnant nun centrally placed, within a church surrounding, with a spoon in one hand and the Antonio Federici Ice Cream product in the other. In addition to this, the text “Immaculately Conceived” & “Ice Cream Is Our Religion” feature.

What are the connotations of this image? What do we feel or think when we view it? Well. . . .

The BCM110 Lecture in Week 3 exposed to myself the idea that people interpret messages differently based on their ideological position.

Based on that, I would say the connotations for myself (non-religious) are that this is a fairly humorous image. It clearly satirises the Catholic faith, however it does so playfully. The tagline “Immaculately Conceived” can be deemed in poor taste, however I believe it is offset by the name of the campaign “Ice Cream Is Our Religion”.

My immediate reading is that the intention is for the image to be taken light heartedly – the Ice Cream is supposedly “Immaculately Conceived”, and that is communicated to the responder through the use of the text and a link to the Catholic dogma of Immaculate Conception by the portrayal of a nun heavily pregnant within a church – although this seems to be a misunderstanding on the behalf of the ad agency, or Antonio Federici themselves, as Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with Celibacy or the virginal conception of Jesus Christ. Either that, or it is a clever play on words to describe the ice cream as immaculate – presumably it would be a word the company is happy for their product to be associated with – Ice Cream so good, it’s: IMMACULATE! . . . That’s the kind of Ice Cream I want to eat!

It would be fairly safe to assume with regards to this image, that those ten who complained were Catholics. Placing myself in their shoes I would presume they read the image as offensive because they believed their religion was being unfairly tormented and ridiculed – This advertisement could be to them just as much about damaging the Catholic religion as it is about creating buzz around the Ice Cream brand for the purpose of higher sales and optimum brand recall. It clearly could be read as offensive if you view the image from the point of view of a person who practices Catholicism, because it portrays a Nun (who is supposed to be Celibate) as pregnant, within the confines of a place of significance to her religion – a Catholic Church.

It’s true, images do have Immaculate Connotations.

Thanks for taking the time to read this one guys! 

What do you think? Is this ad offensive? How does it make you feel? WHAT ARE YOUR IMMACULATE CONNOTATIONS REGARDING THIS IMAGE?!
Leave some comments down below, my fellow BCMers!


Antonio Federici 2010, Immaculately Conceived Advertisement, image, The Inspiration Room, viewed 23 March 2014, <>

Advertising Standards Agency 2010, 
ASA Adjudication on Antonio Federici, Advertising Standards Agency, viewed 23 March 2014, <>


5 thoughts on “Immaculate Connotations

  1. Great Read! I am of a christian faith but i find the advertisement entertaining and light hearted. I think we must look at the audience who viewed the advertisement and deemed it offensive. Most likely they were right-wing conservatives who are also easily offended by nudity and swearing. However, i do think that the advertisement is aimed at a younger audience.


  2. Really good job on this post!
    I found this one very interesting especially with how you added your own perspective. I found that my perspective was perhaps different to yours (growing up going to Catholic schools) but it created great diversification!
    This was a great choice of text and they way you have structured this post made it incredibly smooth and easy to read! Some great points and interpretations 🙂


  3. I have never seen that image before, good find. I think you are completely right with what you have said about it being up to personal opinion and their views when interpreting an image. I also think that with society today being very careful not to offend or isolate certain pockets of society, more and more images are going to be deemed as controversial.


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