Drinks firm axes advert with slogan 'orange and proud' over fears it could offend Catholics
Volvic's move is political correctness gone mad, says UUP
A high-profile advertising campaign promoting orange mineral water will not run in Northern Ireland because of fears it would associate the drink with the Orange Order and offend Catholics.
Unionist politicians and senior Orangemen last night denounced the decision by the manufacturers of drinks' brand Volvic as "absolute nonsense" and "political correctness gone mad".
The advertising campaign for the bottled water - centred on the slogan 'Orange and Proud' - won't be launched in Northern Ireland, due to concerns that it could be interpreted as supporting the Orange Order and so alienate Catholics.
The posters - which feature a smiling model with ginger hair holding the bottle - will appear in advertising boards in England and Wales.
It won't be displayed in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or Scotland - although the product will be sold in shops everywhere.
Volvic is owned by the French multinational food company, Danone, which also produces Evian mineral water.
A Danone spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the sensitivities, which is why these posters will not appear in Ireland, Northern Ireland or Scotland. This campaign was designed as a fun and positive brand statement for Volvic as part of our marketing campaign."
Ulster Unionist MP and Fermanagh Orangeman, Tom Elliott, said: "This is an unreal decision.
"It is political correctness gone mad. To say that people would be insulted by an advertising campaign for an orange flavoured drink is absolute nonsense.
"There are many products and companies with green in their name. I don't think that offends unionists and Protestants one bit.
"Asda have a big green logo, but that doesn't deter those not of a nationalist viewpoint from shopping there."
Mr Elliott said that consumers purchased products on merit, not on fanciful interpretations associating them with a particular political tradition.
"I was a customer with Orange mobile phone operator," he said.
"I switched to another company which provided better reception.
"People make decisions based on common sense, not on outlandish ideas."
DUP MLA and Belfast Orangeman, Nelson McCausland, said: "This is a daft decision by Volvic's manufacturers. It is an ad for a soft drink, featuring a person with ginger hair. The basis of the slogan is very clear - there is nothing more to it than that.
"The ad is intended to be humorous, and I'm really struggling hard to see how anyone could find it offensive.
"The ad didn't go up here, so it's not even as if Danone is responding to complaints.
"The Orange Order is also active in England - it has a substantial presence in Liverpool, for instance, where it marches every year.
"Yet the posters aren't being withdrawn there. It is all utterly illogical."
A spokesman for the Grand Lodge of Ireland denounced Danone's position as "ridiculous, bizarre and inconsistent".
He challenged the company to "publicly explain the rationale of their advertising disparity within the UK given the fact Orange lodges also exist in England".
The spokesman said the Orange Order was involved in several community outreach projects. "Our new museums in Belfast and Loughgall provide a shared space where people from different backgrounds can learn about the history and traditions of Orangeism through education, aiding the reconciliation process in Northern Ireland," he added.
TUV leader Jim Allister said: "The decision not to run this advertising campaign in Northern Ireland is ludicrous.
"The company is being hugely over-sensitive.
"Besides, there is nothing wrong with Orangeism.
"It's a very noble and honourable tradition."