Two in-game ads, a pre-roll YouTube ad and a digital outdoor ad promoted the film Annabelle , rated 15.
a. An in-game ad, which appeared on the Planet of Cubes app, opened with a shot of two houses at night, and the sound of a scream. A woman was then shown waking her husband and saying, John, next door, I heard a scream.
The next scene showed the woman walking through the house and looking up to see another woman holding a doll and whispering, I like your dolls while a man whose clothes were covered in blood walked through a door behind her. The woman said, Just, just take whatever you want and just, just get out.
Other scenes included the woman who was holding the doll slumped against a wall covered in blood, some of which dripped into the doll's eye; a woman being dragged across the floor screaming; and a child running towards a woman through a doorway while
the woman asked, Who are you? , before transforming into a woman in a blood-stained dress as she reached the door and attacking the other woman.
b. The same ad appeared on the Wordfeud app.
c. The same ad appeared as a pre-roll ad on YouTube before a Pokemon film. It also included a section at the beginning which displayed the text, BEFORE THE CONJURING THERE WAS ANNABELLE , and which showed a doll with blood
dripping from its eye.
d. A digital outdoor poster, which was seen at London Bridge train station. Text stated, BEFORE THE CONJURING THERE WAS ... ANNABELLE . A picture of a doll's face appeared, with the text Miss Me? . Issue
Four complainants, some of whose children had seen the ads, challenged whether the following ads were likely to cause fear or distress, and had therefore been irresponsibly placed:
1. Upheld complaints about ads (a) and (b)
The apps Planet of Cubes and Wordfeud were rated as suitable for those aged four and over on Apple devices, which meant that they should contain no objectionable material , according to Apple's rating system. They were rated low maturity ,
on Google Play, which meant they might contain instances of mild cartoon or fantasy violence .
The ad contained several scenes of characters in distress, and reflected the theme of the film from the outset, including through the use of eerie sound effects, and the whispered line, I like your dolls . The scenes including the man whose
clothes were covered in blood, the woman who was holding the doll slumped against a wall covered in blood, the blood dripping into the doll's eye, the woman being dragged across the floor screaming, and the child transforming into a woman in a
blood-stained dress and attacking the other woman, were likely to be distressing to young and early teenage children.
Although the ASA acknowledged that the ad had the option to skip and that it would have been scaled down to fit a mobile phone screen, we considered that the ad was nevertheless likely to cause distress to young and early teenage children, and that care
was therefore needed to ensure responsible targeting. We understood that Warner Bros had asked their media agency to target people aged 16 to 34 with an interest in the horror genre of films, in order to target the ad at an appropriate audience.
We considered, however, that some parents might allow a child to play with the app believing that the content, including all in-app advertising, would be suitable for that age range. In particular, we considered that a parent who might not usually allow
a child to browse the internet independently on a device might be more inclined to allow them to play an age-appropriate app. Therefore, we were concerned that an adult and child could share a device within the same browsing session, and there was a risk
that the child could have been served the ad while playing Planet of Cubes or Wordfeud.
In light of that risk, and because the way the ad was targeted, it could not take into account the possibility of a child sharing a device with an adult. We considered, therefore, that Warner Bros had not taken the necessary precautions to mitigate the
risk of a child viewing the ad by, for example, ensuring that it was served in line with the profile of the apps, and concluded that it had been irresponsibly targeted.
2. Upheld complaints about ad (c)
As in point 1, we considered that the ad was likely to cause distress to young and early teenage children, and would therefore not be suitable for display before content that children were likely to be watching.
We noted that the ad had been age-restricted by being served only to those logged in to an adult's account, and that it was targeted toward users who had demonstrated an interest in horror films. However, we considered that the content of a Pokémon film
was likely to appeal to children, and that it would not be unusual for a parent to be logged into their own account when accessing content for their children. In view of the content of the programme material being watched at the time, it was reasonable
for consumers to expect that only advertising material that was suitable for a young audience would be shown.
Therefore, we concluded that the ad was inappropriately targeted and was irresponsible.
3. Not upheld complaints about ad (d)
Whilst we acknowledged some people might find the poster mildly threatening and distasteful, we noted that it did not show any scenes of violence. We did not consider the ad likely to cause serious or widespread offence, or to cause undue fear, distress
or harm to children. We therefore concluded that it was not irresponsible.
a. An online video ad promoted the Isuzu D-Max Blade truck. It appeared as a banner ad on various websites, including the advertiser's own. It depicted the truck as the hero in a zombie infested city.
b. The same video appeared as an in-game ad that appeared in the app 'Scrabble Free'.
The ASA received seven complaints.
All of the complainants challenged whether the content was distressing and offensive, because it was excessively gory and frightening.
Four of the complainants challenged whether ad (a) had been irresponsibly placed where it could be seen by children.
Three of the complainants challenged whether ad (b) had been irresponsibly placed in an app that could be played by children.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ad featured a number of zombies that were injured and covered in blood. We noted that while the main protagonist, within the Isuzu truck, was surprised and unsettled by the sudden appearance of zombies, his reaction was measured
and he was not shown to be in immediate danger. Similarly, while a woman featured in the ad was shown to be trapped on the roof of a car trying to fend off a group of zombie attackers, we considered it was clear from the man's reaction that he intended
to save her. While we acknowledged that some viewers might find the ad unpleasant and unsettling, and that the it would need to be targeted carefully to ensure it was not seen by young and early teenage children, who could be distressed and upset by its
content, we concluded that it was not overly graphic, violent or threatening, and was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
We considered that the content of the ad could distress young and early teenage children, and therefore needed to be targeted carefully. We noted that the ad was targeted at users who were identified, through their browsing behaviour, to be male, over
18, and interested in cars. We understood, however, that such targeting could not mitigate the possibility of a child sharing a device, and the same browsing session, with an adult, and therefore seeing the ad during that session. While we appreciated
that parents or guardians could take action to minimise that risk by deleting their browsing history or opting out of behavioural advertising, we considered that many parents would not necessarily be aware of such targeting methods or the steps they
could take to avoid being served targeted ads. We understood that the network did not serve ads on any sites that were predominantly aimed at children and so the ad would not have appeared on sites of particular appeal to children, even if the device's
browsing history indicated that the user was an adult male. We were concerned, however, that the ad could nonetheless appear on sites regularly used by children. We noted from the data provided that sparknotes.com was visited by a large number of
individuals aged between the ages of 13 and 17, and that, depending on who else shared the same device, children visiting the site could have been served the ad.
In light of that risk, and because the way the ad was targeted it could not take into account the possibility of a child and adult sharing the same browsing session, we considered that Isuzu had not taken the necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of
a child viewing the ad, such as ensuring the ad did not appear on sites regularly used by children.
Despite the targeting steps taken by the advertiser, because the ad appeared on a website regularly used by young teenagers, we concluded that it had been irresponsibly targeted.
We understood that the ad was targeted to app users depending on their browsing history, and so would only be shown in-app to those who appeared to be over the age of 18. We noted, however, that the app was deemed to be suitable for those aged four and
over, and that parents might allow a child to play with the app believing that the content, including all in-app advertising, would be suitable for that age range. In particular, we considered that a parent who might not usually allow a child to browse
the internet independently on a device, might be more inclined to allow them to play an age-appropriate app. Therefore, we were concerned that an adult and child could share a device within the same browsing session, and the child could have been served
the ad while playing Scrabble Free.
In light of that risk, and because the way the ad was targeted it could not take into account the possibility of a child sharing a device with an adult, we considered that Isuzu had not taken the necessary precautions to mitigate the risk of a child
viewing the ad, such as ensuring the ad did not appear in apps with a low age rating.
Despite the targeting steps taken by the advertiser, because the ad appeared in an app which was rated suitable for children, we concluded that it had been irresponsibly targeted.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Isuzu (UK) Ltd to carefully target their ads to avoid the risk of causing undue fear and distress to children.
An ad for a competition on the Daily Star's website www.dailystar.co.uk and in the newspaper:
a. The website ad, headed Win a date with a Daily Star Page 3 babe! It's a cold miserable winter out there - but as ever your fun-loving Daily Star knows just how to brighten up your lives . The ad featured three photographs, including one
photograph showing three women from the waist up, wearing bras and holding champagne flutes, and another photograph showing three women wearing burlesque-style knickers standing close together with their hands on each others' shoulders and waists, their
breasts partially covered by their arms. The photographs were captioned WIN: Enter the competition to have a chance of spending a day with a page 3 babe! , DATE: The girls are desperate to meet you! and IRRESISTABLE: Who could turn down
the chance to meet one of our babes?! .
b. The newspaper ad featured, on the front page, an image of two women in bikinis under the heading WIN a chance to meet our fab Page 3 girls . On page 3, underneath an image of three women wearing only bikini bottoms, the same text as in ad (a)
was headed SPEND A DAY WITH A P3 BABE .
The ASA received 31 complaints, including one from the campaign group Object. Thirty complaints were from members of the public, many of whom had become aware of the promotion through social media.
The complainants, who believed that to offer a date with a page-3 girl as a prize was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive and socially irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted the demographic information about the Daily Star's readership and website users, and that the image of three topless women in ad (b) appeared on page 3 of the paper, where similar images routinely appeared. We noted the Daily Star's view
that the models were promoted as individuals and were seen as celebrities by some of their readers. We acknowledged that it was not unusual for competition prizes to involve meeting, or having a date , with a celebrity.
We noted the ads referred to the Star Babes as a sizzling prize , and suggested that their visit to the winner's workplace would bring the approval of their colleagues for bagging them this prize and would invoke jealousy in their
friends. In the context of a competition in which the prize involved a visit from page 3 glamour models, a job which was based on a woman's attractiveness and in which women posed nude or semi-nude and which therefore inherently involved the
objectification of their bodies, we considered the implication was that the prize would be enjoyed or envied on the basis of the women's attractiveness rather than because of their personality or other non-physical qualities. We also noted that the
competition prize was described as involving a visit from one of our babes! and two of our top Page 3 girls rather than from specific individuals. We considered the implication was therefore that it did not matter which individual models
would be visiting the winner and that the women were presented as interchangeable. In that context, whilst we noted the ads were targeted at Daily Star readers and website users, many of whom would likely have no objection to page 3 itself, we
considered it likely that some would nonetheless find the notion of offering women as a prize to be sexist, offensive and socially irresponsible.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told the Daily Star to ensure that their future advertising contained nothing that was socially irresponsible or likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
A website (store.americanapparel.co.uk) featured a product page for the Lips Print Cotton Spandex Sleeveless Thong Bodysuit . A female model was featured in four images wearing the advertised product. One of the images showed her from the back
with her buttocks visible.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and offensive, because it portrayed a sexualised image of a model who the complainant considered looked under 16 years of age.
American Apparel (UK) Ltd believed the image did not represent an underage model and said the model shown was 20 years old. They said the ad depicted the advertised product from various angles and included an image of the thong component of the bodysuit.
They believed the image was consistent with standards contained in similar ads.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA acknowledged the ad depicted the advertised product from various angles. We considered the model had a youthful appearance and that some consumers were likely to regard her as being younger than 16 years of age. The model was shown looking back
at the camera over her shoulder with her buttocks visible. We considered that readers were likely to interpret the model's expression and pose as being sexual in nature. In conjunction with the youthful appearance of the model, we considered the ad could
be seen to sexualise a child. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and was likely to cause serious offence.
The ad breached CAP Code rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told American Apparel (UK) Ltd to ensure future ads did not include images that inappropriately sexualised young women or were likely to cause serious offence.
It's so easy to trash the Advertising Standards Authority -- who, as I must constantly point out, have no more legal authority than a bloke waving a placard in the middle of the street, and possibly far less common sense -- that I only do it sparingly.
But once again, they have made a decision that beggars belief, going far beyond a mere judgement on issues of taste and decency and entering into a world of thought crime that ironically makes them sound like a group of repressed, twisted perverts.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is a part of ASA tasked with writing the censorship rules that ASA enforces. CAP also advises advertisers how to abide by the rules. In one such advice piece, CAP expands on its rules designed to avoid giving
opportunities for religious people to claim offence. CAP writes:
Advertisers should take care over referring to religious traditions or key beliefs, particularly when humour is intended. Although use of humour can act to mitigate offence, ads using religion as an object of ridicule are likely to prompt complaints. As
a rule of thumb, if an ad appears to mock a religious belief or central tenet of a religion then it's likely to be considered offensive.
Many expressions are rooted in religious language and advertisers should be aware that their use may prompt complaints, such as concerns that Oh my God is blasphemous under a number of different belief systems, particularly Christianity, Judaism
and Islam. The ASA will consider the context in which the phrases appear and, where they are used in a secular or non-religious way that does not mock a religion, is unlikely to investigate. Similarly, light-hearted use of words like sinner and
temptation are also unlikely to prompt further action, as long as their use does not mock religious belief. Incidental references
Some references to religious iconography primarily intend to reference, for example, a location rather than any religious meaning. However, although some religious objects may have non-spiritual significance, they still carry importance for people of
faith and care should therefore be taken over their use.
According to an Advertising Standards Authority report released in February , two of the ten most complained about adverts in the UK last year featured charities. One of them was Sainsbury's Christmas advert, run in connection with the Royal British
Legion , which retold the historical Christmas Truce on the Western Front in 1914 and received 823 complaints, coming fourth in the overall ranking.
Although that is quite a few outraged viewers, the more telling figure is online. At press time, the Sainbury's ad had been viewed 16,900,823 times on YouTube.
Although the ASA did not investigate the campaign further and it wasn't banned, the resultant web reaction raises a debate about whether the ASA as a governing body is truly representative of public opinion.
The advert censiors at ASA have published waffle responses to a consultation on introducing new prioritisation principles. The ASA explains:
The principles were developed in line with our five-year strategy 2014 -- 2018, which is our public commitment to Having more Impact and Being more Proactive in how we regulate. It expresses our ambition to make every
UK ad a responsible ad. [this would more snappily read: our ambition to make every UK ad a PC ad].
Under these prioritisation principles we will:
- consider what harm or detriment has occurred or might occur;
- balance the risk of taking action versus inaction;
- consider the likely impact of our intervention; and
- consider what resource would be proportionate to the problem to be tackled.
They will help us decide what resource we commit, or activity we undertake, in response to issues identified either through complaints or other forms of information, e.g. research or intelligence from another regulator.
This more proactive and targeted approach will allow us to have the biggest impact on the issues that matter most, benefitting consumers, society and responsible advertisers alike. [The ASA bizarrely thinks that
its PC pedantry is somehow beneficial to society!]
We launched the consultation in November 2014, following pre-consultation with other regulatory bodies, consumer groups and business groups. We're grateful to those who responded and are satisfied, based on the feedback we've received, that we'd
identified the appropriate prioritisation principles to help guide the allocation of our regulatory resources.
A TV ad for the Kazam mobile phone. The ad opened with the shot of the back of a woman wearing just her underwear, she was shown walking around a house. The ad cut to a scene where she ran her finger down her cleavage, bit her lip then moved her hand
over her hip and thigh. She picked up and put on a pair of jeans and the camera showed her buttoning them up. The ad then cut to a close-up of her bottom. She then picked up a shirt which she ironed and a close-up showed the iron moving over the pocket.
After she put the shirt on a mobile phone was heard ringing. She searched her jeans pockets before finding it in the shirt pocket. A voice-over stated Introducing the world's slimmest phone.
Eight complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive because it was overtly sexual and objectified women, and because the content bore no relationship to the advertised product.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted that much of the ad focused entirely on the actor in her underwear, including scenes that featured several close-up shots that lingered over her breasts, buttocks and lips, which we considered were sexually suggestive. Additionally, this
was heightened by the suggestive nature of the music and voice-over and further reinforced because the focus on the woman bore no relevance to the advertised product. We therefore considered that the overall style of the ad served to objectify women. We
therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence to some viewers on the basis that it objectified women.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Kazam Online Ltd to ensure future ads did not cause offence by objectifying women.
ASA has published 2014's top ten most complained about ads. The top three ads are also the most complained about ads ever. Topping the list is Paddy Power's Oscar Pistorius ad with 5,525 complaints.
The fact that the three most complained about ads ever have appeared in 2014 reflects the rise of social media, which has allowed members of the public to voice and co-ordinate their concerns about ads. Many of the complaints about the Paddy Power ad and
the third most-complained about ad (The Sun's Win a Date with a Page 3 Model') were coordinated via the online petition site, change.org.
2014's ten most complained about ads are:
1. Paddy Power.
5,525 complaints upheld by ASA.
ASA banned this national press ad that offered incentives to bet on the outcome of Oscar Pistorius's murder trial. ASA claimed that the ad caused serious offence by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability.
1,768 complaints not upheld.
This TV and cinema ad prompted complaints that the ad was offensive and encouraged bad language amongst children by using the word booking in place of a swear word. ASA did not uphold the complaints, judging that it was a light hearted play
on words that couldn't be mistaken for an actual swear word. We also ruled that it was unlikely to encourage swearing amongst children; any children that did pick up on the joke were unlikely to have learned bad language through the ad itself.
3. The Sun.
1,711 complaints upheld
An email sent to subscribers of the Sun's Dream Team fantasy football competition featured a prize draw to win a date with a Page 3 model. Winners were also able to pick their date. The complaints, many of which were submitted as part of a campaign led
by SumOfUs.org, believed the ad was sexist and objectified women. ASA upheld the complaints claiming that the email was offensive and irresponsible for presenting women as objects to be won.
4. Sainsbury's in association with The Royal British Legion
823 complaints not upheld
Sainsbury's Christmas TV ad showed a story based on the 1914 Christmas Day truce during the First World War. Most of the complainants objected to the use of an event from the First World War to advertise a supermarket. While acknowledging that some found
the ad to be in poor taste, ASA did not judge the ad to be offensive and in breach of the Code.
5. The Save the Children Fund
614 complaints not upheld
This TV and video-on-demand ad featured a women giving birth to a baby with the help of a midwife and prompted complaints that the scenes were offensive, distressing and inappropriately scheduled. ASA did not uphold the complaints and agreed that the
ad's post 9 pm scheduling restriction appropriately reduced the risk of younger viewers seeing the ads and causing distress.
267 complaints considered resolved
A TV and cinema ad claimed Everyone who works at Waitrose owns Waitrose prompted complaints that it was misleading because they understood that some services, like cleaning, were outsourced. Waitrose greed to amend the ad and ASA considered the
7. VIP Electronic Cigarettes
199 complaints that were upheld
Complaints claimed that two VIP e-cigarette TV ads glamorised and promoted the use of tobacco products. ASA did not uphold the complaints about glamourisation, but did consider the ads depicted the products being exhaled in a way that created a strong
association with traditional tobacco smoking.
8. TADServices Ltd
188 complaints. The first actual real complaint about a reprehensible website.
183 complaints not upheld
This animated TV and YouTube ad for Flora Buttery showed two children making breakfast in bed for their parents and walking in on their parents wrestling . ASA received complaints that the ad was offensive and unsuitable for children to see. While
ASA acknowledged that while the ad was suggestive, it did not contain any sexually graphic or distressing scenes, and so was unlikely to cause undue fear or distress to young viewers.
177 complaints more actual real complaints about a reprehensible website.
TV ad and a cinema ad for a travel website, Booking.com:
The TV ad featured scenes of various people arriving at their holiday destinations. The voice-over stated, This holiday has been a year in the planning. And here you are standing, nay staring down your dreams. The rest of your
holiday hinges on the moment you walk through that door. The door opens, you hold your breath and then you realise. You got it right. You got it booking right. Because it doesn't get any better than this. It doesn't get any booking better than this. Look
at the view, look at the booking view. This is exactly what you booking needed. Bask in the booking glory at over half a million properties. Planet earth's number one accommodation site. Booking dot com, booking dot yeah. At the end of the ad
on-screen text stated Booking.com , which was replaced by Booking.yeah in time with the voice-over.
The ASA received 2,345 complaints
The majority of complainants, who believed the word booking had been substituted in place of a swear word, challenged whether the ads were offensive;
A number of complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible because they were likely to condone or encourage swearing amongst children;
A number of complainants, some of whom reported seeing ad (a) on the CITV channel or during programmes such as a Harry Potter film, and who understood that children were therefore likely to see the ad, challenged whether it was
A number of complainants, some of whom reported seeing ad (b) during screenings of films including Paddington and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb , and who understood that children were therefore likely to see
the ad, challenged whether it was appropriately placed.
ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld
1. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the repetition of the word booking was intended to raise awareness of the Booking.com brand and had used word play in a comical way to express that message. We noted that the word booking was used throughout
the ad in a variety of contexts that each lent themselves to substitution with an expletive, and that many viewers would understand the use of booking as word play on the word fucking . However, we considered that the voice-over artist
enunciated the word clearly and that it was sufficiently distinct so as not to be generally confused with the word fucking . We also considered that use of the word booking was not gratuitous or out of context because it was directly
relevant to the advertiser's brand name and the URL they were promoting. Although we acknowledged that the placement of the word was redolent of the use of expletives we noted that the ad did not expressly use any explicit language and therefore
concluded that, although some viewers might find the connotation and word play distasteful, it was unlikely that the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged complainants' concerns that the substitution of the word booking could encourage children to swear. However, we considered booking was sufficiently dissimilar to fucking to be unlikely to be recognised as a
reference to a swear word by those who were not already familiar with the word or associated phrases, and therefore considered that children would infer that the term was being used as a reference to the advertiser's brand name. We also considered that
as the ad did not contain an expletive it was unlikely in itself to promote the use of such words and that those children who were old enough to realise the innuendo would be likely to understand that the humour was derived from the substitution rather
than the use of an expletive. We understood that a small number of complainants had reported hearing their children swear after seeing the ad, but considered that because the ad did not contain any expletives this behaviour would not arise from the ad
itself. Although some complainants were concerned that the ad was encouraging children to say booking in the manner of the ad (and that some had reported this happening) we did not consider that this was tantamount to having encouraged these
children to use expletives. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to condone or encourage swearing amongst children.
3. Not upheld
The ASA understood that Clearcast had not applied a scheduling restriction to the ad, and that this was largely based on previous decisions made about other ads that had used similar approaches. We agreed with Clearcast's assertion that booking was sufficiently removed from
fucking that it would not register with younger viewers, and also considered that older children who already knew the expletive implied by the ad would be unlikely to be adversely affected by the content. We therefore concluded that the ad was
acceptable without a scheduling restriction.
4. Not upheld
The ASA understood that the CAA had taken the decision to place the ad during PG film screenings both because the type of humour used was present in films of this rating and because the BBFC had given the ad itself a PG rating, and considered that this
was an appropriate way of determining whether the ad should be placed in such a screening. Again, we considered that younger viewers would not understand that booking was a substitution of an expletive, and that older children who understood the
humour would not be unfavourably affected by the ad. We therefore concluded that the ad had not been irresponsibly placed.
An ad for giffgaff, played on YouTube, opened with sounds of a woman screaming for help. She was running along a road at night being pursued by a man who appeared to be holding a chainsaw. As the ad developed, a stream of screaming
characters was introduced, each being pursued by the last. They included the initial woman and man, a clown, a zombie, a pumpkin head, a doll holding a blow torch, a ghost and a man with an upside down head. The collective of characters was then seen as
a mock choir, singing outside a house. On-screen text stated When you're scared, you're not the boss. At giffgaff we're all the boss. giffgaff the mobile network run by you
The ASA received two complaints:
one complainant, whose child had seen the ad before a programme for young viewers, challenged whether it was appropriate for children; and
the second complainant, who had seen the ad on a number of occasions while watching music videos and who pointed out that it was not possible to skip until three seconds had played, challenged whether the ad was unduly distressing.
The opening scene of the ad was tense with a dark background and eerie sound effects before the introduction of the female character, who appeared to be in terror, screaming, Someone please help me . The ensemble of creatures who followed her were
also introduced as menacing and, although it was revealed at the close of the ad that the choir was unthreatening, young viewers were unlikely to understand the plot's twist or recognise that the monsters were not as they appeared. We considered
that the ad was unsuitable for young children to view.
giffgaff had explained that the ad was made available only to YouTube subscribers who were signed into their account, such that their age was verifiable. We also understood from the background information provided that the account holder was served the
ad because they had searched for similar content previously. We understood, however, that the ad was played before a programme of interest to very young viewers. While the account holder was over 18, the content of the programme in which the ad was seen
was unlikely to be of interest to them and any over 18s watching were likely to be doing so in order to accompany young children. Although we acknowledged that the ad had been targeted in line with the profile of the account holder, including their
search history, and that giffgaff had no control over the age of people accessing the account of an over 18-year-old, in view of the content of the programme material being watched at the time, it was reasonable for consumers to expect that only
advertising material that was suitable for a young audience would be shown.
While we recognised giffgaff's efforts to target the ad to over 18s, and understood that they had used YouTube's targeting filters to their full extent, we considered that, ultimately, it had not been targeted appropriately and was therefore in breach of
the CAP Code.
2. Not upheld
We understood that the ad appeared over Halloween and considered that adult viewers were likely to recognise the ad's timed theme. Although we acknowledged that the complainant had found the ad difficult to watch, with particular reference to the woman's
screams, we considered that it was unlikely to cause fear or distress to adults. No graphic imagery was seen in the opening sequence and a skip function was included to enable those who preferred not to see the ad to bypass it. Those who continued to
watch would experience the unfolding of the plot and any menace implied by the introduction was quickly dispelled.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.
An ad on eBay for Lederraeder car steering wheels featured an image of a steering wheel next to an image of a woman posing in lingerie.
A complainant, who noted the image of the woman did not relate to the product, challenged whether the ad was sexist and therefore offensive.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ASA considered the image of the women in lingerie bore no relevance to the advertised product, and considered its inclusion was likely to be seen to degrade and demean women and that it was therefore sexist and likely to cause both serious and
widespread offence. We welcomed eBay's actions but noted it was Petersen_project_world's responsibility to ensure its advertising was in compliance with the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code rule 4.1 (Harm and offence).
A video-on-demand (VOD) ad for the video game The Evil Within was seen between 19:00 and 19:30 during an episode of Time Team . The ad began with a shot of a record player and the sound of classical music, which was replaced abruptly by a
shriek and low-pitched atonal music. The ad then showed a metal door with a small window, and a close up of a man making barbed wire. This was interspersed with footage of a platform descending, carrying a figure wearing a bloodied apron, holding a large
mallet and with a metal box covering his head. There was then a shot of a bubbling red pool from which a figure arose, covered in red liquid. This sequence was interspersed with footage of burning flowers, an arm reaching out of the metal door, shots of
the character whose head was covered by the metal box, and an eye with a red iris. During these sequences extracts from three reviews were superimposed over the footage, two of which referred to the horror genre of the game and the third describing the
game as wonderfully vile. The product name was then displayed on screen, alongside shots of the packaging and the PEGI 18 logo. Issue
The complainant, who believed that Time Team was a family programme that children were likely to watch, challenged whether the ad had been responsibly placed.
ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld
The ASA noted that there were no specific placement restrictions applying to non-broadcast ads for PEGI 18-rated games, but that such ads should be placed responsibly to reflect their content. We considered that the tone of the ad was generally menacing
and tense and included shots of a figure covered in a red blood-like substance, although we noted that there was no explicit violence or peril. We considered that it could cause distress to younger children, but was unlikely to do so for older children
and that reasonable steps were necessary to ensure responsible placement away from programming that was particularly likely to appeal to children.
We noted that Time Team , not being obviously adult-themed, had the potential for broad appeal and that care must be taken with the placement of ads around this type of content. We understood that Channel 4 automatically restricted such ads from
appearing around such programmes by preventing them being placed within content that had a 120 child index in linear broadcast, a measure used to demonstrate whether the TV broadcast version of a programme had a significantly higher proportion of
children in the audience than there was in the general population. The linear broadcast audience indices provided by Channel 4 demonstrated very low audience representation for children in general and children under the age of 10 especially. We
considered that this indexing data gave a reasonable indication of a programme's appeal and that it had in this instance demonstrated that children, and young children in particular, were very unlikely to be viewing Time Team on 4OD. Although we
understood that the programme had not been subject to the parental guidance controls available on the platform, we considered that the use of careful and appropriate targeting could mitigate the placement of adult-themed ads in such programming. We
considered that, by targeting audiences over the age of 18 and using linear audience indices to determine the likely appeal of programming and thus avoid programmes with particular appeal to children, the advertiser and Channel 4 had acted responsibly in
placing the ad. We concluded that its placement did not breach the Code.
The ad featured David Beckham, who was riding a motorcycle, and others travelling through a craggy landscape to meet each other. The actors were all shown congregating in smart attire, with Beckham carrying a bottle of Haig Club. He poured the drink into
tumblers for them and they were then shown posing for photographs while, initially, holding their tumblers. The background changed to show different countries and settings, and the arrangement of the group also changed, with the characters no longer
holding their glasses, before returning to the original group photograph. The ad ended with a shot of the product and the caption Haig Club single grain scotch whisky Welcome.
The ASA received two complaints.
Alcohol Concern, who considered that David Beckham would have strong appeal to those under 18 years of age, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it:
1. featured David Beckham promoting an alcoholic beverage; and
2. implied that drinking was a key component of social success or acceptance, and that refusal was a sign of weakness.
3. Alcohol Concern and one other complainant challenged whether the ad implied that drinking was a key component to the success of a personal relationship or social event.
ASA Assessment: Not in breach
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered that, as a recently-retired footballer, David Beckham would be likely to hold general appeal for some children. Nonetheless, we noted that he had not played for a UK club in the last decade and was therefore unlikely to have particular
resonance for children on the basis of his sporting career alone, or have strong appeal on that basis. We understood that Alcohol Concern specifically noted that Beckham had won a Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Sports Legend award earlier this year, and
that they felt this demonstrated a strong appeal to children. However, we also understood that the award's recipient was chosen by Nickelodeon, rather than being voted on by children, and that the award was primarily an American one. We considered that,
although it suggested the potential for some appeal to children, the opinion of the largely-American Nickelodeon channel was insufficient to demonstrate that Beckham held strong appeal to children in the UK.
We also noted that Beckham had been prominently involved in promoting Sainsbury's Active Kids and UNICEF campaigns, but considered that these were unlikely to contribute particularly to his appeal to children or to indicate that he had a strong appeal to
them. We noted that Beckham was widely known for his commercial and ambassadorial roles, as well as his family, albeit with football as the reason for his initial fame. We considered that, although Beckham's early career would have meant that he held
strong appeal to children at that time, the shift from football to commercial ventures, as well as his move to play in foreign leagues and subsequent retirement from football, meant that he was no longer likely to hold such appeal to children in 2014.
Because we considered that David Beckham did not have strong appeal to children and was not likely to be a figure whose example children would follow, we concluded that the ad had not breached the Code.
2 & 3. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the whisky was shown as part of a social occasion and was one aspect of the theme of the ad. However, we considered that the preamble to the photograph scene demonstrated a well-established friendship and sense of ease between the
characters that was already present before the drink was poured. We also noted that the only photograph in which the drink was shown was the present-day image and that the other scenes showed the history of the group's friendship without the presence or
consumption of alcohol. We understood that one of the complainants had concerns about the use of the word Club in the brand name as depicted in the ad. Although we noted that the end frame of the ad also included the word welcome and that
this carried an allusion to social activity, we considered that consumers would recognise the use of the word Club as a reference to the name of the brand rather than a suggestion that purchasing or consuming the product would lead to social
success or belonging. In light of these elements we concluded that the ad did not imply that drinking was a key component of social success or acceptance, the success of a personal relationship or social event, or that refusal was a sign of weakness.