Posts Tagged ‘Advert Censor’

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spotify horror video A pre-roll ad seen on YouTube in June 2018 for Spotify featured a number of scenes in quick succession and tense sound effects that imitated the style of a horror film. The ad opened with a shot of three characters having breakfast. One character said, Can you play the wakeup playlist? and they played a particular song from their phone. That was followed by a shot of another character rousing himself and saying, Turn that up. As the music was turned up, a shot showed a horror film style doll in a dilapidated old room raising its head and tense music was played to accompany the song. Several shots followed of the doll ambushing the characters in the ad whenever they played the song and implicitly attacking them. The final shots showed one character attempting to convince the other not to play the song. The ad showed the character taking hold of the other character’s hand to stop him playing it but then the doll’s hand reached out to press play. The final shots of the ad showed the doll’s face alongside text which stated, Killer songs you can’t resist.

The ad was seen during a video on the YouTube channel for DanTDM, a gaming channel.

The complainant, who was a parent said their children saw the ad and found it distressing, and objected that the ad was:

  1. unduly distressing; and

  2. irresponsibly targeted, because it was seen during videos that were of appeal to children.

Spotify said that the ad was intended for an adult audience and was particularly targeted towards adults aged 18 to 34. They understood that the tools provided to them by YouTube to target ads towards a particular age group and demographic used a combination of self-identification by YouTube users and probabilistic data based on the user’s behaviour across the internet. Their agency had applied relevant content exclusions including ensuring that the ad was not shown alongside shocking or graphic content. Additionally they applied a function so that users could skip the ad after five seconds. They noted that the first encounter with the doll in the ad occurred after 12 seconds and that between 7 and 12 seconds the ad introduced cues as to the tone of the ad so they considered that viewers would have had the opportunity to skip the ad at any point if they considered the content to be distressing.

Spotify provided information from YouTube which listed the demographic data of viewers of logged-in viewers of the YouTube channel on which the ad was seen by the complainant. They explained that the data showed that 89% of viewers of the channel were aged 18 or over and that most (73%) were aged between 18 and 44. Only 11% of viewers were aged between 13 and 17. Spotify said that the ad had appeared prior to a video about a video game that was marketed as a stealth and horror game.

ASA Assessment: Complaints 1 & 2 upheld in part

The ASA considered that although violence was not explicitly shown in the ad, it was implied. The ad contained several scenes that were suggestive of a horror film, including tense music and scenes of characters looking scared or in distress. In two scenes in particular, actors were shown playing the song in bed and in the shower when they were ambushed by the doll. We considered that those scenes would be seen by viewers as reminiscent of famous scenes from horror films.

We first considered whether the ad was likely to cause undue distress to adults who saw it. The ad featured shots reminiscent of a horror film. However, we considered a number of scenes, including the doll nodding its head to the rhythm of the song and the doll’s hand pressing the play button on a device that had the Spotify app open, would be seen by viewers as humorous. We considered that although some might find the ad mildly scary, most adult viewers would find the ad overall to be humorous rather than frightening and it was unlikely to cause distress to them.

However, we did consider that the nature of the ad meant it was not suitable to be seen by children because it was likely to be distressing to them. In particular, the ad contained scenes that had tense sound effects and imagery similar to a horror film including the implied threat of violence. The fact the ad was set inside the home, including a bedtime setting, and featured a doll, meant it was particularly likely to cause distress to children who saw it. We did not consider that the context of the ad justified the distress. In addition, the nature of the ad as emulating a horror trailer was deliberately not made clear from the start of the ad and children were likely to be exposed to some of the potentially frightening scenes before they, or parents viewing with them, realised that was the case. We considered the ad therefore should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of children seeing it.

We considered that the ad may have been appropriate to show before content on YouTube that was unlikely to be of particular interest to children. However, when seen by the complainant the ad was juxtaposed against unrelated content for the video game Hello Neighbour . Although the video game was marketed as a stealth horror game, it included colourful cartoonish images and was rated by the ESRB as suitable for players aged 10+ and by PEGI as suitable for players aged seven or older. We therefore considered that it was reasonable to expect that content about Hello Neighbour was more likely to appeal to children.

The figures provided by Spotify showed that 11% of viewers of the DanTDM were between the ages of 13 and 17, based on viewer demographics relating to logged-in users. However, the channel made use of cartoonish imagery and included videos of video games popular with children and media including Fortnite and The Incredibles. We noted videos on the channel were presented in an enthusiastic manner by a youthful presenter who had won an award from a children’s television network. Taken altogether, we considered that from the content of the videos and presentational style, the channel would have particular appeal to children. For those reasons we concluded that the ads had appeared before videos that were likely to be of appeal or interest to children.

We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause distress to adults, but that it was likely to cause undue distress to children. Therefore, because the ad had appeared before videos of appeal to children, we concluded that it had been inappropriately targeted.

We told Spotify to ensure that future ads did not cause distress to children without justifiable reason, and to ensure ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children were appropriately targeted.

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ASA logo Online adverts placed by Scottish companies are to be trawled by automated bots to proactively seek out commercials which break censorship rules.The automated technology is part of a new strategy to be unveiled next month by the Advertising Standards Authority, which will use the software to identify adverts and social media posts which could potentially be in breach of official standards. They will then be assessed by humans and a decision made as to whether action should be taken.

ASA chief executive Guy Parker told Scotland on Sunday that Scottish companies and organisations were likely to be specifically targeted under the new, UK-wide strategy. Parker regurgitated the old trope that the innocent have nothing to fear saying:

I don’t think responsible Scottish companies have anything to fear — on the contrary, they will welcome better online regulation.

We want to make more adverts responsible online than we have at the moment. We are looking at how we can responsibly automate something that would flag up things that we would then want humans to review. We want to be in a position by 2023 where we are an organisation that is using this technology in a way that makes adverts more responsible.

It seems that Scotland was chosen as the Guinea-pig for the new system as ASA says that Scots historically don’t complain much about adverts, although there was an upturn last year. Parker notes that the most complaints UK-wide come from “better off, middle class people in London and the southeast of England”.

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sweden pc censors Sweden’s Advert Censor (RO) has criticized a Stockholm company for sexism after it used a popular meme alongside a recruitment advert.The image, known by online communities as the Distracted Boyfriend Meme, is based on a stock photo of a man turning away from his appalled girlfriend to look at an attractive woman. Swedish ISP Bahnhof used the image alongside a jobs advert; in their take on the meme, the boyfriend was turning away from your current workplace to stare at Bahnhof.

The censor claimed that the use of the meme was gender-discriminatory, both due to presenting women as interchangeable and sex objects and presenting a stereotypical picture of men seeing women as interchangeable. Saying that it seems a little discriminatory to stereotype men as always seeing women as interchangeable.

The original posts shared to Bahnhof’s Facebook and Instagram pages received hundreds of comments. Many of these criticized the alleged sexism of the image, and the advert was reported to the advert censor.

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Technology A poster for Don Broco’s album Technology , seen in February 2018, included an image of a figure in the style of a religious icon, with the face replaced by a snarling dog.

Two complainants, who believed the image to be of the Virgin Mary, objected that the ad would cause serious offence to Christians.

Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.

Exterion Media (UK) Ltd did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence to the public, particularly in the context of the product being advertised.

The ASA was concerned by Sony’s lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code rule (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a response to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA understood that the image in the ad was reminiscent of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a revered icon of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Christian faith, although it was not an alteration of a specific image. We acknowledged that some members of the Christian faith would object to the use of the image in an ad, and in particular the replacement of the face with a snarling dog. However, we considered that it was clear the ad was for an album and that the image was being presented as artwork in that context. We also considered that the image would not be seen as mocking or derogatory towards the Madonna or Christian faith in general, and there was nothing else within the ad which gave that impression. We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

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ASA logo ASA’s code writing arm, CAP, has launched a public consultation on a new rule to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in ads, as well as on guidance to advertisers on how the new rule is likely to be interpreted in practice. The purpose of today’s announcement is to make public the proposed rule and guidance, which includes examples of gender portrayals which are likely to fall foul of the new rule.

The consultation proposes the introduction of the following new rule to the ad codes which will cover broadcast and non-broadcast media:

Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.

The consultation comes after the ASA published a report last year – Depictions, Perceptions and Harm which provided an evidence-based case for stronger regulation of ads that feature certain kinds of gender stereotypical roles and characteristics. These are ads that have the potential to cause harm by contributing to the restriction of people’s choices, aspirations and opportunities, which can affect the way people interact with each other and the way they view their own potential.

We already apply rules on offence and social responsibility to ban ads that include gender stereotypes on grounds of objectification, inappropriate sexualisation and depiction of unhealthily thin body images.

The evidence does not demonstrate that the use of gender stereotypes is always problematic or that the use of seriously offensive or potentially harmful stereotypes in advertising is endemic. The rule and guidance therefore seek to identify specific harms that should be prevented, rather than banning gender stereotypes outright.

The consultation on guidance to support the proposed new rule change provides examples of scenarios likely to be problematic in future ads. For example:

  • An ad that depicts a man with his feet up and family members creating mess around a home while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess.

  • An ad that depicts a man or a woman failing to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g. a man’s inability to change nappies; a woman’s inability to park a car.

  • Where an ad features a person with a physique that does not match an ideal stereotypically associated with their gender, the ad should not imply that their physique is a significant reason for them not being successful, for example in their romantic or social lives.

  • An ad that seeks to emphasise the contrast between a boy’s stereotypical personality (e.g. daring) with a girl’s stereotypical personality (e.g. caring) needs to be handled with care.

  • An ad aimed at new mums which suggests that looking attractive or keeping a home pristine is a priority over other factors such as their emotional wellbeing.

  • An ad that belittles a man for carrying out stereotypically “female” roles or tasks.

Ella Smillie, gender stereotyping project lead, Committees of Advertising Practice, said:

“Our review of the evidence strongly indicates that particular forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children by limiting how people see themselves and how others see them and the life decisions they take. The set of standards we’re proposing aims to tackle harmful gender stereotypes in ads while ensuring that creative freedom expressed within the rules continues to be protected.”

Director of the Committees of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal said:

“Amid wide-ranging views about the portrayal of gender in ads is evidence that certain gender stereotypes have the potential to cause harm or serious offence. That’s why we’re proposing a new rule and guidance to restrict particular gender stereotypes in ads where we believe there’s an evidence-based case to do so. Our action is intended to help tackle the harms identified in the ASA’s recent report on the evidence around gender portrayal in ads.”

The consultation closes on 26 July 2018 .

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oneplus lake blood video A video ad for mobile phone retailer, OnePlus, appeared in various online media throughout August and September 2017. The ad started with a shot of a cabin by a lake in the woods and red on-screen text that stated LAKE BLOOD. A teenage girl was seen reading on the porch of the cabin and looked up to find a masked man holding a chainsaw standing amongst the trees. The girl smiled and raised her smartphone to record the masked man, and whispered Awesome!, as he slowly came towards her with the chainsaw turning. A teenage boy with blood stains on his clothes and blood pouring down his hands and legs then emerged from the bushes and ran towards the cabin, overtaking the masked man. The boy shouted Go! What are you doing? Are you insane? What’s wrong with you? The boy then knocked the smartphone out of the girl’s hands and said to the girl You should be using one of these. as he handed her the OnePlus5. The boy then proceeded to record the masked man with the smartphone, and encouraged the girl to get in the shot. As the girl posed in front of the masked man, the chainsaw stopped working and the masked man was seen to attempt to start it again. As the masked man managed to start the chainsaw and raised it above his head, the boy then took a photo on the phone and said There we go. Awesome. The ad then cut to a scene with an image of the smartphone with a photo of the girl posing with the masked man, and text on-screen stated OnePlus 5 Dual Camera. Clearer Photos. The final scene showed the masked man, who was covered in blood, sitting on the porch and taking a selfie with the smartphone, with a chainsaw, a pair of legs and an arm, all covered in blood, next to him.I The ASA received 28 complaints:

  1. Twenty-one complainants, who believed that the content of the ad was excessively gory, challenged whether the ad was unduly distressing; and
  2. Eight complainants, who believed that the content of the ad was too distressing for children, challenged whether it was inappropriately placed where children might see it.

ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld

1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA understood that the ad was intended to be a parody of horror films. We noted that the narrative of reckless or ignorant American high school teenagers and violent masked murderers, characters that were both featured in the ad, were well known tropes used in the slasher film genre.

We noted that in the majority of the ad, the scenes showing blood and gore, namely when the teenage boy appeared with dripping blood and a laceration on his leg, were brief and not excessive. We noted that suspenseful and unsettling music played in the background as the teenage girl encountered the masked man; it was only the scene in which the teenage boy handed the OnePlus 5 phone to the teenage girl that cheerful ukulele music began to play. We noted OnePlus’ comments that, in addition to the change in music, the jovial conversation between the boy and the girl alleviated any tension that had been created in prior scenes prior. Notwithstanding that, we noted that the masked man’s menacing laughter and grunts, as well as the noises from the chainsaw, could still be heard in the background as the ad progressed and as the masked man edged closer to the teenage characters. We therefore considered that the suspense had not been fully assuaged.

In the final scene, the teenagers’ bloody corpses were seen to have been strewn on the porch and at the front of the porch; the chainsaw and the masked man were covered in blood, whilst he was taking a selfie. We considered that some viewers would find the final image excessively graphic, notwithstanding that it was intended to be comedic. We further considered that the contrast in bloodiness and goriness between the preceding scenes, which were moderate, and the ending scene was unexpected and would be shocking for some viewers, particularly as they might have expected the preceding cut screen, in which an image of the product was shown against a white background, to be the conclusion of the ad. Because of the unanticipated amount of gore at the end of the ad, we considered that the ad was likely to cause undue distress.

Because of the nature of the ad and in particular its unexpectedly shocking content in the final scene, we considered that some adult viewers would find the ad distressing and in addition, that it was unsuitable for a child audience. We therefore considered that careful targeting was required to ensure that the ad was only shown to an appropriate audience, for example, to those who had expressed an interest in content aligned with the horror or slasher genre, or those whose previous activity indicated that they were comfortable with viewing such content. We further considered that the ad should have been targeted in a manner that it did not appear around content that was likely to appeal to children. However, whilst we noted that OnePlus’s media plan targeted audiences above the age of 16, it had not otherwise been targeted towards audiences that were less likely to be distressed by the content, and in one instance the ad was seen by the complainant’s 7-year-old child on a video sharing platform account with parent controls settings in place, before a video that was related to Thomas the Tank Engine.

For the above reasons, we considered that the ad had not been appropriately targeted and was likely to cause undue distress. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told OnePlus to ensure that similar future ads did not contain anything that was likely to cause undue distress to its likely audience.

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aldi kevin the carrot video A TV ad for Aldi featured a computer-generated image of a carrot that stated, I see dead parsnips. The voice-over then stated, Kevin was feeling a little bit tense. He thought there were spirits. He had a sixth sense. As it turned out his instincts were right. There were a few spirits that cold Christmas night. Award winning bottles for raising a toast and one frightened carrot had just seen a ghost. The ending of the ad showed Kevin the carrot being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost with a white blanket over them. Throughout the ad were scenes showing various bottles of spirits.

One complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it was likely to have strong appeal to people under 18 years of age.

Aldi Stores Ltd stated whilst Kevin the Carrot (Kevin) was intended to be humorous, it was not designed to have specific appeal to under-18s. Aldi believed much of the humour in the situations in which Kevin had been placed since his first appearance in 2016 was of a nature that would be more appealing to adults than to children.

Aldi stated because the ad was promoting alcohol, it was scheduled in accordance with the BCAP Code and therefore was not aired adjacent to programmes likely to appeal to under-18s.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The ASA noted the ad was subject to a broadcast restriction which meant it was not transmitted during or adjacent to children’s programmes, which included all programmes commissioned for, directed at or likely to appeal to under-18 audiences. The BCAP Code required alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18 years of age, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour.

We considered that Kevin the Carrot appeared to be childlike and had a high-pitched voice, similar to that of a young child. Furthermore, we understood Kevin was sold as a soft toy during the Christmas period and was popular amongst under 18-year-olds, particularly young children. We therefore considered that Kevin was likely to have strong appeal to audiences under the age of 18.

We also considered the Christmas theme of the ad contributed to the likelihood of Kevin having strong appeal to under-18s. We noted that choir music was played in the background whilst the voice-over told a short and simple narrative poem. Although the content of the dialogue and poem, which made use of a pun on spirits, was not typical content for children, we considered the tone was reminiscent of a children’s story, therefore it was likely to resonate with and strongly appeal to younger children. Furthermore, we considered the ending of the ad showing Kevin being frightened by another character dressed-up as a ghost would be particularly funny for younger children and consequently, contributed to the overall effect of the ad having strong appeal to under-18s.

Because of that, we considered the ad was likely to appeal strongly to people under-18 and given that it was promoting alcohol, we concluded was irresponsible.

The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Aldi that their future ads for alcohol must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under-18 years of age.