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Annabelle DVD Ward Horton 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:

ASA Assessment

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.

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isuzu zombie advert video 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.

  1. All of the complainants challenged whether the content was distressing and offensive, because it was excessively gory and frightening.
  2. Four of the complainants challenged whether ad (a) had been irresponsibly placed where it could be seen by children.
  3. Three of the complainants challenged whether ad (b) had been irresponsibly placed in an app that could be played by children.

ASA Assessment

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.

2. Upheld

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.

3. Upheld

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.

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win a date page 3 advert An ad for a competition on the Daily Star’s website http://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.

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Quick Trims: Left Behind  

Quick Trims: Left Behind on YouTube

Left Behind is a 2014 USA religious  Sci-Fi thriller by Vic Armstrong.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson and Cassi Thomson. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

A small group of survivors are left behind after millions of people suddenly vanish and the world is plunged into chaos and destruction.

Quick Trims 19: Left Behind on YouTube.

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Poster Mortdecai 2015 David Koepp Mortdecai is a 2015 USA action comedy by David Koepp.
Starring Johnny Depp, Olivia Munn and Ewan McGregor. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.

US: Uncut and MPAA R rated for:

  • 2015 Lions Gate (RA) Blu-ray at US Amazon released on 12th May 2015
  • 2015 Lions Gate R1 DVD at US Amazon released on 12th May 2015

It is normal practise for Hollywood studios to pep up the home video sales of failed box office movies with an Unrated Version or perhaps an uprated version (eg an R rated version of a PG-13 movie. But the producers have decided to go in the opposite direction for home video releases for Mortdecai. An optional kiddified PG-13 version of Mortdecai will be offered on VoD.

Whereas the uncut theatrical version was rated R for some language and sexual material , the PG-13 version receives is rating for  sexuality including references and innuendo, action/violence and brief strong language.

It’s a decision that has fascinated many, including Scott Mendelson who writes for Forbes:

I’m not really sure that the reason Johnny Depp’s Mortdecai flopped was because all of those young Charlie Mortdecai fanatics weren’t able to get into the theater on account of its R-rating. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Mortdecai will be arriving on DVD, Blu Ray on May 12th while arriving on Digital HD services on May 5th . Here’s the weird part: While the film is being offered on physical media and VOD in the theatrical R-rated version, it is also being offered on Digital HD in an edited PG-13 version. That’s right, Lionsgate isn’t offering the Johnny Depp/ Gwyneth Paltrow comic crime caper in an unrated version with additional violence or sex tossed back in. No, they’re going the opposite route, offering a PG-13 version of the film. And I quote: And now, even more comedy lovers can experience the hilarity with the uproarious PG-13 cut of the film, Mortdecai PG-13 , available exclusively on Digital HD and On Demand.

…read the full article

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HM Courts Service Street preacher Michael Overd has been found guilty of using threatening or abusive words after making homophobic remarks during a sermon delivered in Taunton High Street.Overd was ordered to pay £250 to a passer-by who had been ‘offended’ by the preacher’s comments, and he initially refused, at which point judge Shamim Qureshi threatened the preacher with a prison sentence. He has been ordered to pay total costs of £1200.

Overd intends to appeal his conviction and said I follow my Lord and leader, so I won’t tone down.

The street preacher was charged with a public order offence, after complaints were made by members of the public that he had made homophobic and Islamophobic remarks. In particular he quoted Leviticus 20:13 :

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (English Standard Bible)

The BBC reports that the judge told the preacher he seemed to enjoy testing the laws on free speech to their limits . Overd was also told that he should not have quoted from Leviticus 20:13 when speaking about homosexuality , according to Christian Today, who also report that the judge suggested that there were other verses he could have chosen if he wanted to talk about what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Judge Qureshi also works as a judge for the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which aims to help Muslims resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic Sacred Law.

Overd was found not guilty on two other charges, which included causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress after he made critical remarks about the Muslim religious character Mohammed.

The National Secular Society has previously raised concerns about the trial’s implications for free speech. Terry Sanderson, NSS president, said the ruling appeared to make the quoting of certain passages of the Bible illegal:

Whilst we all want to encourage public civility, there is a higher principle at stake. As long as there is no incitement to violence, then people should be allowed to speak freely without fearing legal repercussions.

Read more BBC and BBC Trust Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Top Gear Apocalypse Richard Hammond Top Gear
BBC Two, 2 February 2014

On 2 February 2014 Top Gear broadcast an item comparing hatchback cars from the 1980s with their modern equivalent. The presenters each chose a car. Richard Hammond’s choice was a Vauxhall Nova, which the other two presenters felt was inferior to their cars and comments were made about this in relation to Richard Hammond’s lack of style. When they arrived at the motor circuit to race their cars, Jeremy Clarkson stated:

We arrived at the terrifying Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb. Germany has the Nurburgring, America has Pikes Peak, we have this. It’s more than half a mile long and at the bottom of this fearsome river of tarmac we were given more details of our challenge.

Sometime later, after the other two presenters had completed the circuit, a voice-over from James May said As I pondered on that, Jeremy prepared the course for Hammond’s Nova. Jeremy Clarkson was then seen putting up a placard on a wooden hut on which Pikey’s Peak was written. Richard Hammond was then shown driving his car up to the start line.

The initial complaint stated that the sign had no relevance to the programme and was:

Grossly offensive and racist to a minority community, the Gypsy Traveller community. They are one of the 9 protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010 and do not deserve to be treated like this, especially not on national TV.

The complaint was escalated through the full and long BBC complaints procedure until reaching the rarely achieved appeal to the BBC Trust, who concluded:

The Appeal Committee wish to state that it had carefully considered the case made by the complainants and the information they provided, and had accepted that the word pikey did have the potential to be deeply offensive to the Gypsy and Traveller communities, most notably when specifically attributing negative characteristics to these minority groups. The Committee was also mindful that some words, including pikey , can be used in an abusive context. The Committee therefore advised programme makers to bear in mind the potential for offence this word may have in some circumstances and advised extreme care and sensitivity when employing it in programming. Although the Committee accepted that the word pikey has evolved to have a meaning distinct from the Gypsy and Traveller communities, it nevertheless advises considerable caution in its use.

Finally the Committee noted that the complainants wanted the Editorial Guidelines to directly address the possible dual usage of the word pikey . The Committee considered that this was not necessary because the Editorial Guidelines were sufficiently clear.

Finding: not upheld