by Skip Conover (Twitter: @skip_conover) Copyright 2010 Donald L. Conover
I never heard of Antonio Federici until a few minutes ago. Apparently it is a kind of ice cream in Italy. CNN reported today that the “Advertising Standards Authority” [“ASA”] of the United Kingdom has banned an advertisement depicting a pregnant nun as “offensive.” What a laugh! Read some of the hundreds of comments beneath the story. What the ASA did was absolutely guarantee that anyone with a computer will see or hear about the advertisement within this 24-hour news cycle. Reports of the advertisement are already on YouTube® and will be the subject of this and many other blogs by this evening. I’m sure anyone with half of brain will be able to Google® it and see the advertisement on their desktop.
So what does this prove? It proves what a fool’s errand it is to try to ban any information in this World. The advertisement will be debated and fussed about all over the World until the next attention getter hits the news cycle, but Antonio Federici got PR buzz far beyond its wildest dreams. One can imagine that among the members of the UK Advertising Standards Authority there must be some members of the Church of England, who are simply continuing the 400-year-old struggle between the Catholic Church and the descendants of Henry VIII. By banning the advertisement they assured that practically everyone in the World sees or hears about it. Antonio Federici probably never imagined that simply by preparing a slightly amusing and sacrilegious print advertisement on a limited budget, they would receive over $100 million worth of free PR, but that’s what they have done.
This will cause debates and sermons all over the World about all manner of issues related to the Catholic Church, as well as the ethics of advertising. But it also makes me want to try Antonio Federici Ice Cream! This is a round-a-bout way of showing the implications of our Freedom of Speech. Larry King interviewed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on the topic of burning Korans, and received an instructive response. It illustrates the power of issues being aired and debated, and finally resolved. As I have said many times, the fundamental reason the United States is the envy of the World and the destination of choice for beleaguered peoples wherever they may be is because in these debates the good ideas survive and are adopted by all—and this is now becoming a Global phenomenon. Take Starbuck’s Coffee for example. Despite the known political leanings of the founder of Starbuck’s, its franchises can be found all over the Muslim World. I know one large building where there are four Starbuck’s shops on the premises. Bad ideas, like burning Korans or using a certain offensive word in America, are hammered out of the system. I consider this analogous to the process of tempering steel. The impurities are hammered out of the steel to make it stronger! Who is afraid of honest debate?
What do you think? Comment below please!