Posts Tagged ‘Advert Censor’

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macallan flying poster A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram for Macallan whisky, seen in December 2018:

  • a. The TV ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As he fell, feathers started sprouting out of his arms and he began to grow wings. On-screen text stated Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?. As he approached the ground he disappeared from view behind a mountainside and then reappeared after he had pulled out of the nosedive and started to fly upwards now that his wings were fully grown. An end-frame featured text stating The Macallan. Make the call which was accompanied by an image of the whisky product in a glass.

  • b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV hub, was a longer version of ad (a), but featured similar imagery and on-screen text. Unlike ad (a), that ad did not feature an image of the whisky product.

  • c. The paid-for ad on Instagram featured a video that was identical to ad (b). Issue

Six complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan explained that the line Make The Call was used globally to describe the brand’s philosophy. It was used in relation to the decisions that the brand had made in its own history, and was also relevant to the audience’s decisions made in their own lives. They said the ads featured a fantastical story about a man who took a big decision (i.e. made a call), found it difficult along the way, but was eventually rewarded. They believed the treatment of the story was mystical, almost mythical, and was clearly removed from the real world.

In relation to ad (a), Clearcast explained that they had considered the daring and toughness Code rule when clearing the ad, and had decided that the treatment was fantastical enough to be acceptable.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

The ASA noted that the opening scene in all versions of the ad featured the man running and jumping off a cliff, and considered that could be seen as being reminiscent of the extreme sport of base-jumping. We noted that at that point in the ads, there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or that he was part of a mythical world; we considered the scenery featured was a typical mountainous landscape. We noted that in ads (b) and (c) the character was seen peering over the edge of the cliff and there was a close-up of him clenching his fists. We considered that gave the impression that he was nervous about jumping and was building up the courage to do so. In that context, we considered that the act of jumping off the cliff was very dangerous, potentially fatal, and consisted of extreme risk-taking behaviour. That impression was compounded by the text Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?.

Whilst we acknowledged that some elements of the ad were fantastical, such as the distance the man fell through the clouds, and the sprouting of wings which enabled him to fly away instead of hitting the ground, we considered, nevertheless, that the central message of the ad, which was explicitly highlighted through the tagline Would you risk falling … for the chance to fly?, was one of promoting risky or daring behaviour to reap possible rewards. Although the character was not seen consuming alcohol at any point, we considered the ads made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially very dangerous, daring behaviour and concluded that they were irresponsible.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan to ensure in future their ads did not link alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

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request a bet A TV ad for Sky Bet, seen on 30 August 2018, promoting their Request a Bet service. The football presenter Jeff Stelling said, Forget ‘anything can happen’, in sport anything does happen. But could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet. Three red cards, seven corners, five goals: lets price that up. Or browse hundreds of request a bets on our app. The possibilities are humongous. How big is your sports noggin? Sky Bet, Britain’s most popular online bookmaker. When the fun stops, stop. A large screen behind the presenter featured various odds and statistics as well as a graphic of brain waves emanating from his head. Issue

Two complainants, who believed it implied that those with a good knowledge of sports were likely to experience gambling success, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheldd

The ad contained a number of references to the role of sports knowledge in betting, such as spark your sports brain and how big is your sports noggin. It also included a well-known sports presenter, who viewers would recognise as having a particular expertise in sports, and on-screen graphics used to depict brain waves and various odds. The ASA considered that, taking all those elements into account, the ad placed strong emphasis on the role of sports knowledge in determining betting success. We acknowledged it was the case that those with knowledge of a particular sport may be more likely to experience success when betting. However, we considered that the ad gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler’s control over betting success, by placing undue emphasis on the role of sports knowledge. We considered that this gave consumers an unrealistic and exaggerated perception of the level of control they would have over the outcome of a bet and that could lead to irresponsible gambling behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.

The ad must not be broadcast again in the form complained of. We told Bonne Terre t/a Sky Bet to ensure in future that their ads did not condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, for example by creating an unrealistic perception of the level of control consumers would have over betting success.

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vilnius tourism poster A poster for Go Vilnius, a development agency for Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, seen on 10 August 2018, stated in red text Nobody knows where it is, but when they find it – it’s amazing. VILNIUS THE G-SPOT OF EUROPE. The ad featured an image of a woman, visible from the upper part of her face. The woman was lying on material printed with a map of Europe, with her hair splayed out behind her head. Her eyes were closed and she had one arm raised above her head, gripping the material in her hand at the point on the map where Vilnius was located. Issue

A complainant, who believed the ad was overtly sexual and the image of the woman was unrelated to the product, challenged whether the ad was offensive.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

The ASA considered that the ad was risqu39 and sexually suggestive in tone, due to the reference to VILNIUS THE G-SPOT OF EUROPE, and the image of the woman gripping the map with her eyes closed. However, we considered the ad portrayed that suggestiveness in a light-hearted and humorous way, for example through the statement Nobody knows where it is, but when they find it – it’s amazing, and because the woman appeared in a surreal and unrealistic scenario, indicating the location of Vilnius on the map of Europe. We considered the ad did not contain anything which pointed to an exploitative or degrading scenario or tone.

While we acknowledged that some might find the ad distasteful, we considered, for the above reasons, the ad did not objectify the female character and we concluded it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.

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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.