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More distracting than domestic violence...

ASA bans Gold and Goblins game advert for trivialising domestic violence

Link Here22nd November 2021

An in-app ad for the mobile app game Gold and Goblins, seen in the Hooked Inc: Fishing Games and Quizzland apps on 17 September 2021, included a video of a woman playing a game on her mobile phone, while behind her a man picked up a chair and drew it back over his head as if to strike the woman with it. The ad then showed the man looking at the phone over the woman's shoulder as she continued to play.

Two complainants, who considered the ad encouraged domestic violence, challenged whether it was offensive and socially irresponsible. Response

AppQuantum Publishing Ltd said they would immediately stop running the ad across all their platforms. They said they had intended the ad to be humorous in nature, and apologised for any offence it might have caused.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA acknowledged AppQuantum's willingness to remove the ad.

The ad depicted a man about to assault a woman, and we considered that consumers would understand from the context of the setting that it was because her attention was focused on the game she was playing, rather than on the man.

We considered that such a reference used in an ad for a mobile app game trivialised and condoned the serious and sensitive subject of domestic violence. This was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, and we considered the ad had not been prepared in a socially responsible manner.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told AppQuantum Publishing Ltd not to trivialise or condone domestic violence in its advertising.



Censorship is a mugs game...

The advert censor is wound up by jokey coffee mugs with rude words

Link Here7th September 2021

A paid-for display ad for Banter King, an online novelty goods retailer, seen on 27 April 2021 in the Sky Sports app, featured images of several mugs, three of which stated COCK HUNGRY WHORE, MY SON IS A CUNT HE GETS IT FROM HIS FATHER and LIVE LAUGH TOSSER.

A complainant challenged whether the ad was:

  1. likely to cause serious or widespread offence; and

  2. irresponsibly targeted. Response

Banter Group Ltd told us that they had not intended to cause offence. They said that they would be stricter on how and where they placed ads in the future, and had also disabled any products with potentially offensive aspects from appearing on their ads.

Sky told us that it was not an ad they would normally allow on their platform, and that it had not been shown because of a proactive scheduling decision. They explained that they had tried to ensure the Sky Sports app only carried suitable advertising by utilising a strong block list and having rules in place across their ad server and third-party vendors, which were designed to prevent unsuitable or offensive ads from appearing. They also told us that they carried out weekly manual checks on ads on their platforms, and removed inappropriate content when they became aware of it.

However, they explained that despite those controls occasionally content that did not meet their standards could get through their filters, which had happened in this case. They explained that could occur where ads came through under masked URLs, bypassing their blocks, or where the ads were based on a user's cookies, cache, or their search history.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The Code required marketers to avoid causing serious or widespread offence, and to ensure that ads were appropriately targeted. We acknowledged Banter Groups assurance that they had taken steps to prevent products with the potential to cause offence from appearing in ads in the future.

However, consumer research by the ASA and others showed the use of the words such as cunt was so likely to offend, that they should not be used at all in marketing communications even if they were relevant to the product, unless very carefully targeted to an audience that was unlikely to be offended by them.

We further considered that the words cock and whore were strong swear words that were also likely to cause serious offence to a general audience.

The Sky Sports app was rated as having content suitable for all ages, and we considered it was likely to appeal to a broad audience. The advertiser provided no information on how they targeted their advertising, or if they used interest-based criteria when doing so.

We therefore concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and had not been responsibly targeted.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Banter Group Ltd to take care to avoid causing serious or widespread offence in future and to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted.



Advertising a lack of respect for privacy...

ASA disgracefully demands that advertisers snoop on people's browsing habits (with dubiously obtained, if any, consent) so as to avoid serving some adverts to children

Link Here28th July 2021
ASA is demanding that advertisers snoop on people's browsing habits so as to build up a profile of people, so as to determine their age and suitability for advertising for gambling, alcohol and frowned upon food products. ASA was particularly considering advertising on websites that appeal to all ages, and so the subject matter of the website is not enough context to determine the age of users.

And good luck to the snoopers if they think they can infer that Facebook and Twitter users are over 13s and that Pornhub users are all adults.

ASA explained:

We have published the findings of our latest proactive monitoring sweep, making world-leading use of Avatar technology to assess the distribution of ads for alcohol, gambling, and high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products in websites and YouTube channels attracting a mixed-age audience, predominantly composed of adults.

As a result of our findings, we are calling on advertisers to make better use of audience and media targeting tools to help minimise children's exposure to age-restricted ads in mixed-age sites.

The monitoring underpinning this project was focused on:

  • Mixed-age online media - consisting of non-logged in websites and YouTube channels, with adults comprising 75%-90% of the audience

  • Dynamically served ads for alcohol, gambling and HFSS products; the underlying technology used to serve these ads enables advertisers to target subsets of the sites' audience based on data known or inferred about them e.g. their age, location, online browsing interests etc.

We used Avatars for the purpose of identifying trends in how these ads are being delivered to adult, child and/or age-unknown audience groups. The Avatars are constructed to reflect the online browsing profile of these age groups, but their automated actions -- visiting 250 web pages on both desktop and mobile devices, twice a day -- are obviously not indicative of real world online behaviours.

This explains why our six uniquely age-categorised Avatars received 27,395 ads , published on 250 sites , over a three week monitoring period. These high figures clearly do not reflect real-world exposure levels to advertising, but the data does give us a good basis for assessing whether age-restricted ads are being targeted away from children in online media attracting a heavily weighted (75%+) adult audience.

We found that:

  • Gambling ads were served in broadly similar numbers to Child and Adult Avatars, with no significant skew towards the adult profiles. The Neutral Avatar (which has no browsing history to provide indicative age information) was served noticeably fewer Gambling ads in mixed-age media

  • HFSS ads were served in broadly similar numbers to Child and Adult Avatars, with no significant skew towards the adult profiles, and notably higher numbers of ads served to the Neutral Avatar

  • Alcohol ads were not served to any Avatars

Advertisers are not allowed to serve age-restricted ads in children's media (sites commissioned for children, or where children make up 25% or more of the audience), but these ads are allowed in mixed-age media attracting a heavily weighted (75%+) adult audience, so long as they stick to strict rules to ensure the creative content of the ads don't appeal to children or exploit their inexperience.

We, however, believes it is a legitimate regulatory objective to seek to minimise children's exposure to age-restricted ads generally and therefore wants to see advertisers of these products use available tools to more effectively target their ads away from children, even where the vast majority of an audience is over 18.



Thin shaming...

ASA bans Motel Rocks fashion advert over thin model

Link Here15th July 2021

Two paid-for Facebook posts by the clothing retailer Motel Rocks:

a. The first post, seen on 9 April 2021, featured a female model wearing a pink dress getting out of a car. The post included the caption Shop our 'Rose Flock Pale Pink' print on site now.

b. The second post, seen in May 2021, featured a model wearing a halter neck dress. The post included the caption Shop our weekly drops of the hottest Spring pieces on site now.

Five complainants, who believed the models appeared to be unhealthily thin in ads (a) and (b), challenged whether the ads were irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

Both ads showed a still image, which when clicked played a video. The ASA understood the complainants had raised concerns about the way the models appeared in the still images and we therefore assessed those images only.

We considered that the model's legs in ad (a) looked very thin, with her thighs appearing to be the same width as her lower leg, and out of proportion with the rest of her body. That impression was exaggerated by the ad's lighting, the angle of the image and the position of the model getting out of the car. We concluded that ad (a) made the model look unhealthily thin and that the ad was therefore irresponsible.We considered the cut of the neckline of the dress in ad (b) placed emphasis on the model's left arm and shoulders. We considered the position of the model's arm made her arm and shoulders appear very thin, with the model's bones in those areas appearing prominently. We also considered the angle of the model's left arm made her upper arm appear noticeable thinner than her elbow joint. Therefore, we also concluded that ad (b) made the model look unhealthily thin and that the ad was irresponsible.

The ads must not appear again in their current form.

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