Marked as Scaredy Girls…ASA whinges that an advert for The Marked Ones appeared on Girls Go Games website

Posted: 23 April, 2014 in ASA Advert Censor
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Paranormal Activity Marked Ones Blu Ray An online trailer for the film Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones , which played before games on http://www.girlsgogames.com, began with a woman saying, What is this? and a man replying, It’s some black magic stuff . A number of brief scenes from the film followed, including a sheet flying quickly towards the camera, a man pulling a long thread from his eye, something smashing through the window of car, objects flying around a living room as a woman screamed, arms breaking through a door, a girl looking through a trapdoor and being grabbed by the arm, a close-up of a woman looking frightened, and two young girls with a ghostly appearance and no eyes speaking in demonic voices. The ad also featured night vision clips of cinema audience members screaming, shielding their eyes and looking frightened. On-screen text interspersed between scenes stated NEW YEAR … NEW FEAR . Issue

The complainant challenged whether the ad had been responsibly targeted, because it was likely to be seen by children and would cause them harm and distress.

ASA Assessment: Complaint Upheld

The ASA considered the overall tone and the content of the ad, including in particular the scene of two young girls with a ghostly appearance and no eyes speaking in demonic voices, was likely to cause harm and distress to children.

We acknowledged Paramount Pictures UK had instructed their media buying agency to buy online advertising space aimed at 16- to 24-year-olds, and that the ad should only be served between 8 pm and 6 am. We considered, however, that the Girls Go Games website was, due to its overall design and the type of games it featured, likely to have strong appeal to children, and to young girls in particular. We noted that according to SPIL Games BV, 32% of users of the Girls Go Games website were 12 years of age and under, which we considered to be a significant percentage of the website’s users. We also noted that 61% of website users were between 13 and 22 years of age, and we considered it likely that a significant portion of websites users in that age group would fall into the lower end of that age range, given the design of the website and types of games featured.

Because the ad had been targeted to a website which was used by a significant proportion of children, and we considered the ad was not suitable for children, we concluded it had not been responsibly targeted.

The ad must not appear again in its current form.

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