Ad description

A poster for Terror in the Trees, a forthcoming Halloween event, seen on 26 September 2019 at Central Station in Newcastle upon Tyne, featured a clown with a sinister looking face and ragged clothes holding a red balloon.


The complainant, who considered the ad distressing for children, challenged whether it was likely to cause fear or distress.


Beamish Hall Ltd said they had taken into account that there was no close-up of the clown's face and considered the content was not inappropriate for an ad which promoted a Halloween event. They said they had taken advice from the CAP Copy Advice team.


Not upheld

The ASA acknowledged that Beamish Hall had taken advice from the CAP Copy Advice team, whose view was that the ad was unlikely to be considered a breach of the Code.

We acknowledged that the ad had appeared as an outdoor poster and was therefore likely to be seen by people of all ages. We considered that the dishevelled look of the clown, the bloodied appearance of his nose and mouth and his deep-set eye sockets gave a sinister look to his appearance. However, there were no other elements that we considered contributed more to causing distress, such as threatening facial expressions, violent body language or gory wounds. We acknowledged that the red balloon would be recognised by some adults as a reference to the film "IT", but that young children were unlikely to be aware of that association. While we acknowledged that the image would not be to everyone's taste, we considered it was unlikely to cause fear or distress for adults or children. We therefore concluded that the ad was not in breach of the Code.

We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.2 (Harm and offence), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary

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