Despicable Placement…ASA whinges at YouTube advert for Dom Hemingway plying before Despicable Me

Posted: 9 June, 2014 in ASA Advert Censor
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Dom Hemingway DVD Jude Law June A pre-roll ad on YouTube for the film Dom Hemingway , seen before a video connected with the film Despicable Me and a video entitled Ghetto Kids Dancing Sitya Loss New Ugandan music 2014 DjDinTV, which featured children dancing. The ad opened with the lead character smashing a wall with a sledgehammer and shouting Fuck you and fuck your cat. Further scenes contained a voice-over of the lead character stating, I’m a legend, I’m a crazy man, I’m a fucking nutter ; a woman saying, You’ve got to be fucking kidding me ; and two characters saying, Fuck you at each other repeatedly. Other scenes in the trailer showed the lead character with white powder on his nose, the lead character punching a man in the face, a topless woman jumping into a swimming pool and the lead character swigging from a whiskey bottle.

Two complainants challenged whether the ad had been responsibly targeted because it appeared before videos which they believed would appeal to children.

Lions Gate UK Ltd stated that the ad had been restricted to those signed in as 18 or over. They also said that the ad was targeted at those who had watched the theatrical trailer, and that therefore those who had watched the trailer and were signed in as over 18 were eligible to be served the ad.

YouTube stated that, following an internal investigation, they considered the ad was in violation of their own advertising policy. They said that users are responsible for their video ads and are required to comply with YouTube’s advertising policies. They stated that the ad campaign had now ended, but that it had been disapproved for future use.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

We noted that the ad contained several instances of very strong language, including in the few seconds before the ad could be skipped, and brief scenes of violence, nudity and implied drug use. We considered that this content would not be suitable for display before content that children were likely to be watching. We also noted that the ad had been age-restricted by being served only to those members signed in as 18 or over, and that it was targeted toward users who had already watched a trailer for the film, and considered that in this regard the advertisers had acted in good faith in terms of targeting the ad away from content which would appeal to children. However, we noted that one complainant had seen the ad before a video incorporating characters from Despicable Me , and that the other had seen it before a video featuring children dancing, and considered that the content of both would be likely to appeal to children. While we acknowledged that the videos may also be of some interest to adults, we considered that there was a strong likelihood that adults watching the videos would be doing so with children because the videos were related to a children’s film or featured children acting in a way that other children may be interested in. Furthermore, we noted that one of the complainants had the site safety mode activated, and could therefore have reasonably expected not to be served ads featuring strong language or nudity. We concluded that, although Lions Gate had taken steps to ensure that the ad was targeted responsibly, it had ultimately not been targeted responsibly and the ad therefore breached the Code.

We told Lion’s Gate UK Ltd to ensure that future ads were appropriately targeted.

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