Ad campaign gone wrong: ‘Divine’ potato chip commercial sparks anger in Italy

With Schubert’s Ave Maria playing in the background, the 30-second spot by Amica Chips is set in a convent with a group of nuns walking to Mass to receive holy communion.

It switches to the mother superior, who finds an empty tabernacle – the vessel in which the Eucharist (the consecrated communion hosts) is stored – and in a quick-thinking move, fills it with some of the potato chips she has to hand.

The pray of young nuns delight in the noisy substitution, as does the abbess in finishing off the pack from the confessional.

The spot – which was aired on Mediaset, Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster, along with other private networks – ends with the tagline, ‘Il divino quotidiano’ (The divine everyday).

Creative agency Lorenzo Marini Group told the Guardian the ad was intended to convey a ‘strong British irony’. It’s aimed at the younger market and deliberately exaggerates ‘the irresistible crunchiness of Amica Chips’.

While supposedly a light-hearted take on snacking, it’s sparked anger in Italy.

Giovanni Baggio, president of AIART (the Italian Association of Radio and Television Listeners) called for its immediate suspension. He branded the spot as sacrilegious and noted it “offends the sensitivity of millions of practicing Catholics by trivializing the comparison between the potato chip and the consecrated object.”

Catholics believe the communion wafer represents the body and blood of Christ.

Catholic newspaper Avvenire also criticized the ad, stating, “Christ has been reduced to a potato chip. Debased and vilified like 2,000 years ago.”