GHD Undo Thy Will Be Done
GHD Hair has been given the red light by the British Advertising Standards Authority over the Thy Will Be Done series of TV ads, an expression of the seven-year-long New Religion in Health Care campaign. Each of the ads, developed by TBWA Manchester, ends with large on-screen text stating “ghd IV thy Will Be Done”, with the letter ‘t’ appearing as a cross. On-screen text then states “ghd. A new religion for hair”.
A Child’s Prayer
The campaign began with an advert featuring a boy and two girls. The boy chooses to run into the field holding the hand of the girl with blonde curls. The straight haired brunette, left behind, prays, “When I grow up let me have beautiful curly hair so Jonathan will ask to hold my hand and I’ll say ‘No, piss off and die you wanker!”
Women pray in various languages, including Italian, Swedish and English… “May my new curls make her feel choked with jealousy”. “May my flirty flicks puncture the heart of every man I see”. “Make him dump her tonight and come home with me”
The Archdeacon of Liverpool, Ricky Panter, and 22 members of the public have objected that the ads, particularly the use of the phrase “thy will be done” from the Lord’s Prayer and the depiction of the letter ‘t’ as a cross in ‘thy’, are offensive to the Christian faith.
Jemella, the manufacturer trading as GHD, said they had not intended to cause offence. They asserted that the ads were intended to show a deeply held wish by a girl and her expression of a response to that wish. They maintained that the use of the word “thy” was to add drama and weight to the intensity of the girl’s wishes.
Jemella argued that the phrase “thy will be done” was only a small part of the Lord’s Prayer and was in relatively common usage. They maintained that phrases such as “turning the other cheek”, “give us today our daily bread” and “lead me not into temptation” were also biblical phrases that were in common usage and had been used in previous advertising. They believed, although a small number of Christians might be offended by the phrase, the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
Jemella pointed out that a previous ASA adjudication had ruled that the claim ‘thou shalt convert’ in a ghd ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence. They argued that ‘thou shalt convert’ was similar in tone to ‘thy will be done’. They also pointed out that they had used the strapline ‘a new religion for hair’ for ghd for the past seven years across all mediums.
Jemella asserted that they had not intended to cause offence by depicting the letter ‘t’ as a cross. They said the typographic style was in keeping with the style of the current brand campaign and they believed it was unlikely to be offensive to Christianity. They said the television campaign had now finished and that they had slightly amended the image of the letter ‘t’ for future ads.
The ASA acknowledged that ghd had been using the phrase “a new religion for hair” in their marketing for the past seven years. The board considered that ghd’s use of the word “religion” in that context did not mock faith or belief, but was intended to refer in the wider sense to an interest or hobby followed with devotion.
ASA concluded, however, that the eroticised images of the women apparently in prayer, in conjunction with religious symbols such as the votive candle and the rosary beads, the use of the phrase “thy will be done” from the Lords Prayer and the image of the letter t as the Cross of Jesus, were likely to cause serious offence, particularly to Christians.
The Thy Will Be Done campaign was developed at BDH TBWA Ltd, Manchester, by creatives Kyna Griffiths and Jenni Birchall, agency producers Lou Vasey and Joyrce Rennie.
Filming was directed by Fatima via Annex Films, London, with producer Fred Robinson and director of photography Dennis Madden. Editing was done at Condor. Original music for the Prayers advert was provided by Adam Ryan-Carter.