A TV ad, for the computer game Duke Nukem Forever, seen in June 2011, featured animated scenes which included naked women pole dancing in a strip club and a full frontal view of a woman wearing only thong-style pants. Pixilation obscured the women’s bottoms and nipples. It also showed two girls in the club, who were dressed in school uniform and had their hair in bunches, and were about to kiss. Those scenes were intercut with quickly edited scenes of action, including aircraft firing weapons over a blazing city, a character being punched and a robot marching through a street. Issue
Thirty-four viewers, who saw the ad after 9pm, challenged whether it was offensive and irresponsible, because it was sexist, violent and overly explicit and included imagery which was likely to harm children and vulnerable people.
Take Two said that Duke Nukem Forever was a cartoonish, over-the-top, humorous take on the first person shooter videogame genre and deliberately distanced itself from the ultra realistic, graphic modern war games that dominated the field. They said any sexual content and violence was presented in an exaggerated, non-realistic way, by animated characters, in an attempt to send up the main protagonist Duke Nukem, who could be seen as something of a 1980s, muscle-bound, ultra-macho figure of fun. They said that all content was actual game footage and the game had been rated 18 by the BBFC.
They did not believe the ad contained any content that would cause the type of harm referred to under the Code, nor content that would cause serious offence. They said the content was clearly fictional and the ad used computer-generated characters from the game’s storyline and from game play. They felt that the combat scenes were no more violent than viewers would expect, or those from action films broadcast at that time.
Clearcast acknowledged that the ad contained sexual imagery and violent images but felt the content was of a level similar to that approved for other video games, film trailers and similar ads. They felt the violent scenes were relatively restrained and were no worse than many others in that category. They believed the post-9pm timing restriction was appropriate given the content and felt it would keep the ad away from most young viewers.
ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld
Although we understood that neither the game nor the ad would appeal to all tastes, we noted the scenes were representative of the game’s content and did not consider that the violent imagery was overly graphic for broadcast after 9pm. We therefore considered that the scenes featuring action and violence were not at a level likely to distress or cause harm to children or vulnerable people.
We noted that the ad also contained several scenes in a strip club, featuring women who appeared naked, or nearly naked, pole dancing and gyrating. We noted that some pixilation obscured the women’s bottoms and nipples, but nonetheless considered that the presentation of the women’s naked bodies and their very sexual movements and gyrations were overly sexually explicit for an ad with a post-9pm scheduling restriction. We also noted that the ad featured two girls in school kilts and bunches about to kiss, and considered that, in the context of other scenes with sexual content, the ad appeared to link teenage girls with sexually provocative behaviour.
On that basis, although we did not consider that the images of violence were likely to distress or cause harm to children or vulnerable people and although we did not consider that the portrayal of the women in the ad was overtly sexist, because we considered that the sexual imagery and content in the strip club scenes were overly explicit for broadcast at that time, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence when broadcast before 11pm.
The ad breached BCAP Code Rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.1, 4.2 and 4.9 (Harm and offence).