ASA Adjudication on Lions Gate UK Ltd
Lions Gate UK Ltd
60 Charlotte Street
18 January 2012
Number of complaints:
A TV ad, for the cinema release of the film "Conan the Barbarian", viewed on the Dave channel on 23 August 2011. The ad showed a number of clips from the film. The opening scenes included a man pulling back the hair of two women, and Conan handling swords and jumping up to punch another character in the face. The ad then showed various battlefield and one-on-one fighting scenes, which included a man being stabbed in the back; a man using a sword to slice through an opponent; a man riding a horse and stabbing an opponent; a man being thrown to the ground and wounded; another man getting stabbed in the back with an axe; a woman getting scratched in the face; and someone being hit and then a severed head falling on the ground. The images concluded with Conan stabbing a character in the stomach, and then cutting another character's nose off with a sword. On-screen text appeared at intervals throughout the ad that stated "THIS SUMMER ... VENGEANCE ... IS UNLEASHED ... CONAN THE BARBARIAN ... IN CINEMAS NOW". A voice-over concluded the ad by stating "Conan the Barbarian, in cinemas now".
Four complainants challenged whether the images of mutilation, blood and decapitation shown in the ad were offensive and inappropriate for broadcast because of the extreme violence portrayed.
Clearcast responded on behalf of Lions Gate UK Ltd. They said they saw in excess of 60 edits of the ad which were considered on their individual merits. They said the ad was given a post-11pm scheduling restriction, limiting the likelihood of it being seen by individuals likely to be shocked or unaware that programming, and ads broadcast at that time, might have more violent content than those broadcast earlier.
Clearcast said that the film was not gritty, urban realism but rather clearly set in the fantasy genre and although the shots were bloody, they did not linger, were brief and were fired off in quick succession, and therefore viewers were likely to be more tolerant of the elements of gore in the ad and it was therefore unlikely to cause widespread offence.
The ASA noted that Clearcast applied a post-11pm restriction and the ad was shown in accordance with those restrictions. Although we noted that the ad showed the characters fighting and was gory in content, we considered that the setting was fantastical and as such, the scenes in the ad were removed from reality. We considered that the scenes in the ad were very violent, but also considered that the ad reflected the stylised battlefield scenes in the film. Whilst we considered that the ad was unlikely to suit everyone's taste, because it was broadcast after 11pm, we concluded that it was unlikely to promote violence or cause widespread offence to viewers at that time. We investigated the ad under BCAP Code Rules 1.2 (Responsible advertising), 4.2 (Harm and offence) and 32.1(Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.