Friday, January 11, 2008

Uh ... blasphemy?

Reuters is carrying this story (hat tip to TitusOneNine) about a Coca-Cola ad campaign in Russia that employed religious (Russian Orthodox) symbolism in its visuals. Some believers protested, and after first trying to ignore them, the company has pulled the ads. I don't suppose they had a sudden burst of conscience, but know...talks.

Now, I have a pretty high threshold for having my religious sensibilities offended, and I'm not sure that the ad for Manwich that I saw (three times during one episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent) last night rises that high. But it trends in that direction, not the least because the core of the offense is the hijacking of a well-known hymn, and I am, among other things, a hymnophile.

I didn't get all the words, but, to the tune from the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, morphed several decades ago into the hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee:

Manwich, Manwich, we adore thee
---- [not understood]----
(Tongues and mouths?) unfold before thee,
---- [not understood] ----

I'm not going to be contacting the American Family Association over this. I'm not going contact Hunt's or make a particular point of not buying their tomato paste. But while Manwich may not leave a bad taste in my mouth, the ad does.

One can only wonder about the outcry if Hunt's had co-opted a Jewish or Muslim song, or other symbolism from those traditions, and turned it into a commercial jingle for Sloppy Joe's. Heads would roll. Or at least there would be letters to the editor.


March said...


Anonymous said...

I smile too, though I'm not sure that Schiller's An die Freude, the text that Beethoven used as the basis for this part of the 9th, is truly a Christian hymn. We might say that the author of the hymn "Joyful, Joyful," and the Manwich advert guys were drinking from the same spring . . . .


Anonymous said...

Daniel Martins said...

I take your point about both the hymn and the Manwich ad taking liberties with Beethoven and Schiller. But, of course, if it were just the tune that Hunt's used, the classical musician in me might be a trifle annoyed, but it would be not big deal. However, since the ad also parodies the text of a Christian hymn, not just the tune, other considerations come into play. Interestingly, in this post-Christian culture, I suspect that any familiarity with the hymn that the ad agency hoped to capitalize on is largely non-existent. The intended impact of the ad depends on the viewer making a connection that maybe 1% of viewers are actually capable of making. And most of that 1% are probably offended!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone was going to complain about this ad. Of all the ads I have seen, this is definitely blasphemy. I don't understand why the Catholic League or the American Family Association haven't complained about it.