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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

One of the Boyar Estates' advertisements for its embryonic Blueridge brand has attracted 20 complaints, including one from the Church of England, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). But its adjudication did not uphold the complaints against the line: "Jesus was born in a trough". The adjudication stated: "The advertisers said the poster belonged to a campaign that showed important things could come from humble beginnings. Jesus was born in a humble environment but went on to be a great man. "The advertisers believed the advertisement showed reverence for its subject and conveyed a Christian message by encouraging people to set aside preconceptions and prejudices and judge on merit, instead of origin. "Although it acknow-ledged that the complainants had been offended by the poster, the authority considered the advertisement was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence." A spokesperson for ad designers M&C Saatchi said: "The tone is very much tongue-in-cheek; the message [is] that Blueridge is a good wine. The campaign is hard-hitting but fun and the message is definitely Christian: Judge on merit, not origin." Steve Abrahams, Boyar Estates marketing manager, said: "We stand firmly behind the Jesus poster and all of the others. "The brief to M&C was to get the brand noticed, and to state clearly that the wine is produced in Bulgaria," he said. "It is a difficult task to introduce a new brand into the UK market, especially when trying to overcome preconceptions concerning Bulgarian wine, and I believe the posters do both. "Does it matter where it comes from' refers simply to initially tasting a wine. Where it comes from should not matter when forming an opinion of the taste," said Abrahams.