ASA Adjudication on Entertainment One Ltd
Entertainment One UK Ltd
120 Cavendish Street
30 May 2012
Digital outdoor, Internet (OM 3rd party)
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated and both were Upheld.
Two ads for the film "Ghostrider: Spirit of Vengeance in 3D":
a. A digital outdoor ad seen in Glasgow Central Railway Station, on 14 and 15 February 2012 showed a trailer of the film, which was displayed without sound. The ad showed various scenes including a living skeleton character whose head was on fire and a man with a missing eye, screaming at the screen.
b. A YouTube banner ad, seen in February 2012, showed an image of Nicholas Cage which faded into a moving image of a skeleton whose head was on fire while text stated "GET READY FOR THE WORLD'S DARKEST HERO". The film's title and a range of clickable options then appeared on the right of the banner ad and a static image of the skeleton character sat on a motorbike and wielding a flaming chain appeared on the left.
1. One complainant, whose children aged four and seven years had been frightened by the ad, challenged whether ad (a) was unsuitable to be seen in an untargeted medium where it could be seen by children.
2. One complainant challenged whether ad (b) was unsuitable to be seen by children.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. & 2. Entertainment One (eOne) said that the film was certified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) as a 12A which meant that anyone aged 12 and over could go and see the film unaccompanied and children younger than 12 may see the film if accompanied by an adult. They said that both ads had been cleared by the relevant media owners who displayed the ad. eOne said that the ads depicted the film's main character who was a Marvel superhero in the form of a skeleton 'ghost rider'. They said that the imagery used in the ads consisted of clips or images from the film but they were not intended to cause any harm or distress to any person and particularly not a child, as they were not the target audience. They apologised for any fear or distress caused to the complainants. They said that while the ads may have been considered unsuitable for general viewing, the media selected to display the ads was not intended to be viewed by unaccompanied children under the age of 12 where an adult would not be capable of shielding the child from such fear or distress. eOne said that YouTube advised in their Terms of Service that anyone under 13 should not use the site and they therefore considered that YouTube was not a medium which would target children under the age of 12, without parental supervision. They said that it was a parent's responsibility to review YouTube's Terms of Service and recognise that it was not recommended for children under the age of 13.
In relation to ad (a), eOne said that Glasgow Railway Station was used widely by working commuters and as such, was not a location that would or should have been frequented generally by children under the age of 12 and in any event, they understood that it was highly unlikely that any children under 12 would be at the station unaccompanied.
JC Decaux, who displayed ad (a) on behalf of eOne said that they dealt with a large volume of ads and as such would only review an ad if an advertiser had indicated that it may be unsuitable for outdoor display, which did not happen with ad (a). They also confirmed that the ad had appeared in a number of other stations including Glasgow but they had not received any complaints themselves from members of the public about it. They also believed that the majority of typical traffic coming through the station was mainly adults, with only around 5% of people in the station typically being children.
YouTube, who displayed ad (b) on behalf of eOne said that they did not consider that the ad was unsuitable for untargeted display on the basis that the film was rated 12A and displayed obviously fictitious content. They considered that it was the responsibility of eOne to ensure that any ads submitted for display on YouTube were compliant with the CAP code.
The ASA noted that the imagery shown in ad (a) reflected the content of the film which was rated as a 12A by the BBFC. However, we also noted that most of the scenes included depicted violence or scenes of horror from the film, including footage of the film's main character, a living skeleton engulfed in flames attacking people with a metal chain. We considered these images could frighten some children and that the ad was likely to catch their attention, especially because it was shown on a large screen. We therefore concluded that it was unsuitable to be shown in an untargeted public medium
Ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.2 (Harm and offence).
We noted that ad (b) reflected the content of the film and that the skeleton figure was a fantasy character and was likely to be recognised as such. However, we considered that the moving image in the ad, which depicted the film's lead actor Nicholas Cage turning into the skeleton character after his face was consumed with flames had the potential to cause distress to some children. We noted that in order to create a YouTube account, users were required to confirm that they were at least 13 years old. We also noted, however that this ad could be viewed without logging in to the site and therefore it was not possible to prevent under 13-year-olds from viewing it. We also understood that a small proportion of visitors to YouTube were children despite their Terms of Service stating that under 13s should not use the service; seven per cent of YouTube users were aged between two years and 11 years and nine per cent were aged 12 to 17 years. Because ad (b) included imagery that could have caused distress to some children, and it could be viewed by all YouTube users including children, we concluded that it was inappropriately targeted and breached the Code.
Ad (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.2 (Harm and offence).
The ads must not appear again in their current form.