ROME An angry Italian priest has persuaded soft drinks company Red Bull to withdraw an advertisement setting its product in a nativity scene on the grounds it is disrespectful to Christianity.
Father Marco Damanti, from Sicily, wrote to the makers of the caffeinated energy drink denouncing their commercial as "a blasphemous act" and said on Monday he had received a prompt reply promising to remove it from Italian television.
The advert depicted four wise men, instead of three, visiting Mary and the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The fourth wise man bore a can of the soft drink.
"The image of the sacred family has been represented in a sacrilegious way," Father Damanti told Corriere della Sera. "Whatever the ironic intentions of Red Bull, the advert pokes fun at the nativity, and at Christian sensitivity."
The priest also objected to the company's slogan, "Red Bull gives you wings," said by angels in the animated advert.
The commercial is by no means the first to fall foul of Italian religious sensibilities. Sony, fashion house Marithe et Francois Girbaud, and pop singer Madonna are among those whose adverts have been banned on the grounds of religion.
(Reporting by Liz Rusbridger; Editing by Sophie Walker)