A TV ad, for a console game, included an animated character that had a human body and a dog's head. It stated "Are you an animal person? Well, not like me cos most people are made up entirely of person. And if you're a person person, then you'd be missing out on the duality of life. With the Sims 3 Pets you can have a pet or be a pet. You can play both ways. So, go on, experiment. Chase some tail. Play with life". The ad also included animated scenes of a man playing a guitar surrounded by animals and other people. He was also shown in a bath and then appeared about to kiss a woman on a bed.
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with no timing restriction.
1. Some of the complainants challenged whether the ad, in particular the scene with the couple on a bed, was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
2. Most of the complainants challenged whether the ad, in particular the scene with the couple on a bed, was suitable to be broadcast when children might be watching.
1. Electronic Arts (EA) said the ad was designed to be light hearted and that was reflected by the main character being a man with a dog's head. They said the idea behind the ad was that the game could be played in "both ways"; as an animal or as a Sim. They said the scene of the couple on the bed was from gameplay. They believed the graphics made clear the characters were fictitious and that the product was a videogame; the PEGI 12 logo was also clearly displayed. EA said both characters were clothed and did not actually kiss; the footage of a dog lifting its leg onto the corner of the bed also added to the silliness and comedy of the ad.
Clearcast said they had noted the couple on the bed but they were not kissing and therefore they considered a timing restriction was not necessary, because they did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence.
2. EA said Clearcast advised that broadcasters might wish to view the ad to determine its acceptability for broadcast in programmes that would appeal to children under nine, it was not their intention, however, to target children or to cause offence. They had entered into the clearance process at an early stage, and had taken on board feedback, for that reason.
Clearcast said the game had a 12 age rating and that automatically triggered the warning to broadcasters that they might wish to view the ad to determine its acceptability in programmes that would appeal to children under nine. They said they believed that warning was sufficient to prevent harm.
1. Not upheld
The ASA considered the presentation of the ad was such that it was clear that it was for a videogame and that the scenarios shown were not a reflection of real life. We acknowledged some viewers might find the content of the ad, in particular the scene of the couple on the bed, distasteful but considered most viewers were likely to interpret it as being light hearted and mildly suggestive, rather than as being overtly sexual. We therefore concluded that it was not likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We considered the scene of the couple on the bed was mildly suggestive but noted it was brief and that although they appeared about to kiss, kissing did not take place. We considered the ad did not include anything that was likely to cause harm or distress to children or was otherwise unsuitable for them. We therefore concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule 32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.