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Mr Kipling pulls exceedingly offensive ad from television

LONDON - With 570 complaints weighed against it, an ad for Mr Kipling Mince Pies, which shows a woman giving birth during a nativity play, has been pulled from television screens.

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The ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, was described by blasphemous by some of those who complained to the ITC, including a nun and a priest.

Others called the ad degrading to women and offensive. The spot starts with a scene that appears to be in a hospital, with a woman in labour crying out in pain as her husband shouts "Come on Mary", before the camera pulls back to reveal the labour ward is actually a church hall.

A woman in the audience turns to a vicar more interested in his mince pie and asks if Mr Kipling has ever directed a nativity play before. The vicar, who is unfazed by the screaming, says: "No, but he does make exceedingly good cakes."

Manor Bakeries, part of the food group RHM, said that representatives of the Catholic and Anglican churches had been contacted before the ad aired and deemed it to be in no way offensive.

A spokeswoman for Manor Bakeries acknowledged, however, that there are people who do not like it and said that the very last thing Mr Kipling would want to do is cause offence.

"We are proud of our advertisement, which features a light-hearted take on the traditional village nativity show that so many families enjoy at this time of year. It has received a great deal of support. We acknowledge that there are people who do not like it and as the very last thing Mr Kipling would want to do is cause offence to anyone, we have taken the voluntary decision to replace the advertisement with another one."

Manor Bakeries' decision to pull the ad voluntarily comes despite being cleared by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre prior to being aired.

"[It] is intended only as a gentle bit of fun, which is how the vast majority of people took it. This was the finding of extensive research that we undertook before airing the advertisement, both among the general public and with church congregations. We also sought the opinion of representatives of the Church of England and Catholic Church in England and Wales, who gave assurance that the script was perfectly acceptable," Manor Bakeries said.

The spot was written by Joel Bradley and art directed by Phil Clarke. David Lodge from Outsider directed.

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