Controversial ad shows 'Jesus enjoying a sandwich and a blunt'
SEATTLE -- A Seattle restaurant chain is taking advantage of an odd combination of circumstances by creating a controversial Easter promotion featuring Jesus smoking marijuana.
Easter Sunday falls on April 20, or 4/20. The term 420 is also pop cultural term for smoking marijuana.
For the last two years, the Lunchbox Laboratory has used Jesus holding a sandwich to promote an Easter day 2-for-1 promotion of its signature dish called "Burger of the Gods."
So this year, the restaurant has added a lit joint in Jesus' hand as he cradles a sandwich in an advertisement that was only sent out to 15,000 people on the restaurant's email list. The result is a 420 Jesus
"This is not about Jesus, it's about the burger of the gods, its an actual burger that we have," said Lunchbox Laboratory owner John Schmidt.
The ad was only distributed once in the original email, but it has since been shared on social media and the web.
"I'm not your moral guide in life, I'm selling burgers" said Schmidt, who runs three Lunchbox Laboratory's in Seattle, Gig Harbor and Bellevue. "It's not an anti Christian message, its a very peaceful message, Jesus enjoying a sandwich and a blunt."
Schmidt and his marking staff created the ad for a couple of hundred dollars, but Schmidt says it resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising because it been picked up by several media outlets.
Online comments critical of the ad question whether or not Schmidt would have done the same thing with a depiction of the prophet Muhammad.
"I'm a Christian, I'm not a Muslim, and this is an ad promoting our Burger of the Gods, not a burger the prophets," Schmidt said.
Schmidt is sympathetic to the criticism and apologizes to anyone who finds it offensive, but he's proud of its creativity and effectiveness.
"If Jesus was holding a goblet of wine you wouldn't be interviewing me right now, but you put a joint in his hand a very peaceful drug, its blasphemy," he said.
He says the burger Jesus isn't going away. It will return next Easter without the joint because in 2015, Easter is on April 5th.