A banner ad for a solitaire game, seen on the lock screen of a phone that was running the AVG Cleaner app in
October 2016, featured three women in bikinis posing in a suggestive manner.
A complainant challenged whether the ad had been inappropriately and irresponsibly placed, as it had appeared untargeted on a device used by children.
Queens Solitaire Games, whose product was promoted by the ad, did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
AVG Technologies UK Ltd, in whose app the ad appeared, stated that, in order to prevent improper ads from appearing in their apps, their ad providers automatically blocked ads referencing several categories, including sex and sexuality. However, on rare
occasions, inappropriate ads could bypass this screening. They said that this usually happened when the advertiser categorised or named the ad in a misleading manner. When made aware of such an incident, they immediately blocked the ad manually on all ad
networks and sent it to their ad providers for investigation.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA was concerned by Queens Solitaire Games' lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our
enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We considered that the sexualised nature of the images meant that they should not appear in media that might be seen by children. While the app was unlikely to appeal to children, we considered that, if installed on a device used by children, it could
easily be seen by them. Furthermore, we noted that the ad had appeared on the screen of a phone while it was locked, increasing the chance of it being seen by children. We considered that Queens Solitaire Games held primary responsibility for ensuring
that the content and placement of the ad complied with the CAP Code, and that they should have correctly flagged the content of the ad to the publisher. However, we considered that AVG Technologies was also responsible for ensuring that ads in their apps
were targeted appropriately. We acknowledged that they had systems in place to prevent ads with sexual content from appearing in their apps, and welcomed their prompt action to remove inappropriate ads. However, we were concerned that their procedures
had not been adequate to prevent the ad from appearing in an inappropriate medium in this case. We therefore concluded that the ad had been placed irresponsibly.
The ad must not appear again in media that might be seen by children. We told Queens Solitaire Games to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted. We referred Queens Solitaire Games to CAP's Compliance team.
A radio ad for the film Lights Out , broadcast on 16 August at 7:25 pm on Capital Radio East Midlands, featured
an introductory voice-over stating, From the visionary filmmaker behind the Conjuring . A child's voice then said, Every time I turn the lights off, there's this woman. A woman said I've been seeing her too , followed by a scream.
The voice-over continued, Critics are calling it one of the year's best horrors. The woman then said, Everyone is afraid of the dark, and that's what she feeds on. There was the sound of more screaming. The voice-over said, Chilling.
The woman said, We need to leave. The voice-over continued, It will leave you sleeping with the lights on. The child said, She won't let that happen. The woman, sounding very distressed, shouted, Stay in the light! , followed
by sinister noises. The voice-over said, Lights Out. In cinemas Friday. Certificate 15.
A complainant challenged whether the ad had been scheduled appropriately, because it had frightened her child.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that, in line with the plot of the film, the audio clips in the ad suggested that there was something threatening associated with being in the dark or having the lights off. We acknowledged that a fear of the dark was common among young
children. We agreed with Radiocentre that the ominous tone of the ad meant that it should have been scheduled away from times when children aged under 16 were likely to be listening in order to minimise the possibility of children hearing it.
Prior to scheduling the ad, This is Global had consulted RAJAR figures for the time that the ad was to be aired and those figures had shown that the under-16 segment typically comprised a low proportion of the audience at that time. The ad had been heard
during school holidays, when children's listening patterns might be expected to differ slightly compared to term time. However, we noted that RAJAR figures for the specific day and time that the ad was broadcast showed that only 7% of the listening
audience was under 16, which we considered minimal. We concluded that the scheduling advice given by Radiocentre was appropriate and that it had been applied responsibly by the broadcasters, and that the ad therefore did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 5.1 (Children), 32.1 and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
David Currie has been appointed Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority and will succeed the current Chairman, Chris Smith
The appointment was announced by the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, the bodies that fund the advertising self-regulation system, following consultation with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Ofcom and the Advertising
Currie has good experience of media censorship as he was the founding Chairman of Ofcom.
Currie will take up his position from 1 October 2017.