ASA Adjudication on Warner Bros. Entertainment UK Ltd
Warner Bros. Entertainment UK Ltd
98 Theobald's Road
16 June 2010
Number of complaints:
A poster, for the film 'From Paris With Love', showed the actors John Travolta, holding a rocket launcher, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, holding a hand gun. Text stated "TWO AGENTS. ONE CITY. NO MERCI". The quote "TRAVOLTA KICKS ASS", attributed to "Nuts", appeared at the top of the ad.
One complainant, who thought the ad had been designed to make the firearms look prominent and the actors holding them look 'sexy' or glamorous, objected that the ad irresponsibly glamorised and condoned the use of violence and guns.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
Warner Bros. Entertainment UK (Warner Bros.) said the UK poster campaign for the cinema release of 'From Paris With Love' was prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers, because they amended the global artwork for the advertising of the film by reducing the prominence of the weapons and ensuring they were not pointed at the viewer. They argued that the weapons were not held in a threatening or aggressive manner, and the actors were not in an action pose. They continued that there was no interpersonal violence between the characters in the ad, neither of the weapons was smoking as if recently fired, and no bullets or wounds featured. Warner Bros. said the most prominent of the two weapons was the rocket launcher, a weapon of war, which they believed did not reflect the realities of 'street' culture and gun crime. Instead, they argued, the weapons accurately reflected the film's fictional content, thereby giving the public an idea of what to expect from the film, without encouraging or condoning violence.
Warner Bros. explained that they intentionally sought to make the film's two main characters, not the weapons, the main focus of the ad. They said John Travolta's character featured most prominently and, as an actor, he was not generally recognised as being glamorous. They also said he did not appear in an aspirational or alluring manner in the poster. They said the other actor featured in the poster, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, probably had a more glamorous reputation but he was less prominent than John Travolta and his image was obscured, because he was facing away from the viewer.
They believed the film title, 'From Paris With Love', might reasonably be interpreted by some as a parody of 'From Russia With Love' and, as such, was unlikely to be perceived as condoning the use of guns in real life. Warner Bros. said the text "TRAVOLTA KICKS ASS" was a direct quote from a magazine review and was the reviewer's opinion of John Travolta's performance in the film; it also gave an indication of the action nature of the film. They stated that the advertising campaign for the cinema release of 'From Paris With Love' had reached its conclusion and they had no plans to display the poster again, but they did intend to begin advertising the DVD release of the film in July.
The ASA considered that, although the rocket launcher was prominent in the ad, it was not representative of realistic 'street' violence or gun crime, whereas the gun was less prominent and was held by a character whose face was turned to the side. Neither weapon was pointing at the viewer. We considered the weapons were not presented in a 'sexy' or aspirational way and the manner in which they were held, by characters with relatively neutral or contemplative expressions who were not looking directly at the viewer, was unlikely to be seen either as glamorous or as displaying aggression. We noted "TRAVOLTA KICKS ASS" was a quote from a magazine review and could be interpreted as a film reviewer's opinion about John Travolta's performance as an actor, not a reference to his character's use of weapons.
We considered that the ad would not be seen as suggesting that the use of violence and weapons in real life was desirable or acceptable. We concluded that the ad did not go too far in its depiction of the film's content and was unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or as glamorising and condoning the use of violence and guns.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Responsible advertising) and 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)