A TV ad for the computer game Call of Duty: MW3 , opened with on-screen text stating AM3RICA , followed by computer-generated scenes of New York under military assault, with buildings exploding and catching fire, soldiers loading guns and a submarine firing rockets. On-screen text stated3NGLAND , followed by scenes of warfare in London, including armed men firing at a lorry until it crashed and a helicopter firing rockets. On-screen text then stated FRANC3 , followed by scenes of Paris under attack, featuring soldiers and vehicles firing weapons. On-screen text then stated G3RMANY , followed by scenes of tanks driving down the streets, soldiers abseiling down the side of a building, planes firing overhead and a burnt-out building toppling over. A voice-over stated,The world as you knew it is gone. How far will you go to bring it back? The ad featured further scenes of armed warfare and destruction, including soldiers firing weapons, military vehicles firing rockets at buildings and explosions. An end-frame statedCALL OF DUTY. MW3. 08.11.11. Pre-Order Now For XBox 360 and featured the logo for certificate 18. A sound-track featured throughout the ad as well as sound effects for weapons being fired, explosions and soldiers shouting.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a timing restriction such that it should not be broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to persons below the age of 16 years. Issue
Two viewers challenged whether the ad was inappropriate for broadcast during the day when children would be watching. One of the viewers reported that their children, aged between two and four, had been frightened by the ad.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA understood that the ad had been cleared with a scheduling restriction that meant it should not be broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to persons below the age of 16 (an ex-kids restriction). We noted that the ad was broadcast at 2.30pm during a premier league football match and that audience index figures showed that a small proportion of viewers were children aged under 16. We also noted Activision’s comment that the ad had been given a Parental Guidance (PG) certificate by the BBFC for in-store use, which meant that it had been rated as being suitable for general viewing, although some scenes may not be suitable for young children.
We noted the ad featured computer-generated scenes of warfare in various cities around the world. The ad contained scenes of extensive gunfire, explosions and destruction, and these scenes were accompanied by sound effects of weapons being fired, explosions and soldiers shouting. We also noted the ad featured music in the background which sounded like a low-pitched siren and which added to the dramatic nature of the scenes. We considered that the scenes of violence and destruction, together with the sound effects and music, could cause distress to some children who might see the ad. Although we noted that the ad was only shown during the football, we concluded that it was inappropriate for broadcast during the day when young children might be watching and the ex-kids restriction was insufficient. We considered a post 7.30pm restriction would have been more appropriate.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 5.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling). Action
The ad must not be broadcast again before 7.30pm.