A TV ad for a Birmingham furniture shop showed an image of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, followed by shots of the exterior of the shop and various sofas in the showroom. The ad featured a song in the style of the sacred Sikh verses (Gurmantar) with the following lyrics, in Punjabi:True Name of God is ‘You are Wonderous’; Come to The Sofa Factory in Birmingham; Measure and make your corner sofas; reupholster your older sofas; change the foam and springs; my father Sarvan Singh sowed the seeds of this business; I come from the village ‘Kooner Dhanni’. Come on Dad; I get plenty of your love and good wishes. Plenty of Love. You (God) are my Guru, my True Guru. Sofa Factory.
A viewer challenged whether the ad, and specifically the use of Guru Nanak and the Gurmantar, was offensive.
Sangat TV said they had accepted the ad because it was already playing on another channel. They said it was not their intention to offend any viewers, the ad was now off air and they would not accept ads that were likely to be similarly problematic in future.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
We noted that the ad featured an image of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and also featured Sikh verses which had been adapted with lyrics promoting the advertisers’ business. We considered that the use of the central icon of the Sikh faith and the use and distortion of religious verses to advertise products made light of those important elements of the Sikh faith in a way that was likely to cause serious offence to some members of the Sikh community.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence).