No Mocking Christ’s Crucifixion!

Boylesports’ ad was likely to cause serious offence, said the ASA. Photograph: ASA

Boylesports’ ad was likely to cause serious offence, said the ASA. Photograph: ASA

A gambling ad featuring a hand nailed to a piece of wood that ran over Easter has been banned for mocking the crucifixion of Jesus and the Christian religion.

Gambling company Boylesports emailed a promotion to punters that showed a hand nailed to a piece of wood against a desert scene with the strapline “nailed on bonus”.

Its text read: “In memory of the dearly departed JC, we are offering you a sacrilecious [sic] bonus this Easter weekend … So don’t just sit there gorging your own body weight in chocolate, that’s disrespectful. Get on Boylesports Gaming and get your nailed on bonus.”


One recipient of the email lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority that the ad was offensive and mocked the Christian religion.

Boylesports tried to play the link with Jesus Christ down, saying that there was no religious symbolism in the ad and that crucifixion per se was a “common practice” in Christ’s time.

The ASA rejected Boylesports’ argument, saying the ad was clearly not a reference to a “generic” crucifixion, but directly to that of Jesus Christ.

I think Boylesports’s argument should have been given more credence, because an awful lot of people were executed by crucifixion, but of course, they don’t matter. They never do. Boylesports did rather shoot themselves in the foot by mentioning JC though. Christian sites are jumping all over this, absolutely gleeful that the ASA has defended Christians and Christianity. All the stories have made it clear that it’s a no-no to mock Christ’s crucifixion, but I guess it’s perfectly okay to mock all those others who were actually crucified.

Full Story Here.


  1. drken says

    1. It’s my impression that crucifixion was usually done by tying somebody to a cross, not nailing them. Mostly because hands generally don’t hold nails well and since the purpose of crucifixion was a long, slow death, nailing somebody up would accelerate the process. Also, while many people were crucified, the number of people famous it via the use of nails is about 1. Claiming that could be anybody nailed to a piece of wood is fairly specious.

    2. The ad shouldn’t have been banned, but they should have expected some reaction. It’s pretty hard to feel sorry for them.

    3. Hey Peter! I can see your house from here!

  2. says

    @drken #1 -- Tying wrists was more common, with death coming from suffocation as the chest collapsed under the weight of the legs and torso. However, nails were sometimes used, just below the wrists between the radius and ulna bones in the forearm. That greatly added to the agony of death: the muscles in the arm would rip and the body would hang by tendons as suffocation set in. This was usually reserved for the very worst offenders and was not common.

    The whole “nails through the hands” meme comes from the fanciful imagination of Medieval artists.

  3. dianne says

    I don’t see how mocking someone who died via a particularly nasty torture is a good idea, whether that person’s death went on to lead to a religion or not. Actually, if I were a believing Christian, I think the only person whose death in that way I would consider reasonable to mock would be Jesus’. Because he was the only one (in the Christian mythos) who let it happen to him voluntarily and really it was only a temporary inconvenience to him. Much better than mocking some poor guy who was executed for insulting the emperor or whatever.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    The ad shouldn’t have been banned

    It wasn’t. That’s not how the Advertising Standards Authority works.

    If it was any actual use, everyone wanting to advertise anything would have to submit ads for approval, and if there were complaints from a small, tightly controlled test group, the ad would be banned and nobody outside the test group would ever see it.

    What happens in reality is that companies send out ads they know damn well are going to offend people. Some uptight dolts complain, the ASA reviews the ad after it has been broadcast, and if it upholds the complaint all it can do is wag its finger and say “and jolly well don’t do it again, d’you hear?”. To which the advertisers say “yes sir thank you sir” while barely suppressing a smirk, and noting that the very fact that the ad has been investigated and talked about has given them probably more actual brand awareness than the ad campaign did in the first place.

    Case in point: I live in the UK, but I’d never heard of Boylesports until today. I didn’t get the email, and neither, AFAIK, did anyone I know. But that doesn’t matter, because the Christians they irritated have made sure that their name is now FAR more widely known than it would have been otherwise… and for free. Well done, Christians!

  5. says

    Sonofrojblake @ 4:

    the ASA reviews the ad after it has been broadcast, and if it upholds the complaint all it can do is wag its finger and say “and jolly well don’t do it again, d’you hear?”.

    So, basically, the ASA is a scolding service?

  6. johnson catman says

    Caine @5:

    So, basically, the ASA is a scolding service?

    And apparently, a big promoter of the Streisand Effect.

  7. scoobie says

    Yeah, I’d say that was a pretty offensive ad: to anyone with more than half a brain. “Nailed on”?!! Since when does that signify anything positive? A realistic-looking bleeding hand?!! H’mm, not at all repulsive. “Dearly *departed*…”?!! Looks like they didn’t get the memo. Clearly morons aiming at morons.

  8. says


    Clearly morons aiming at morons.

    I don’t think so. Going by Sonofrojblake @ 4, Boylesports got one hell of a lot of free advertising out of this. Seems fairly smart to me. Also, ‘nailed on’ is pretty standard -- here in uStates, the term would more likely be ‘tacked on’, but it’s just a way of saying ‘added on’.

  9. says

    Also, I think it’s fair to say the ad is in poor taste, but offensive? No, I don’t find it offensive.

  10. sonofrojblake says

    basically, the ASA is a scolding service?

    Pretty much, yeah.

    From the FAQ on their website:
    “Our primary sanction is to have advertisements that we judge to be in breach of the Codes withdrawn and prevent them from appearing again. In the vast majority of cases advertisers agree to withdraw their ads following an upheld ASA ruling.
    […] The ASA is a non-statutory body so we do not have the power to fine or take advertisers to court.”

    Given that, by their nature, many of the most egregious ads which get complained about are one-off, time-based things (such as this Easter-specific ad), the “power” to withdraw it AFTER it’s been seen by the target audience, and dictate, two months or more later, that the advertiser can’t show it again is laughably pointless.

    In fact, a brief look at what are the most complained about ads in recent years, it’s apparent that the main service the ASA provides is as a dumping ground for letters written in green ink from people with very little in their lives.

  11. says

    All those graven images are insulting to christianity (some forms) judaism and islam. Are churches publically advertising with those crucifixes they display?

  12. says


    Are churches publically advertising with those crucifixes they display?

    I wish religious people would get upset about those grisly, gory things. I find them disgusting.

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