A TV ad, for a Harry Potter film, viewed on 6 July 2011, featured a voice-over which stated, "He's after you Mr Potter." The voice-over was accompanied by images of Harry Potter and others travelling underground; a building was also shown on fire. A voice-over then stated, "How long before they come after us?” A group of people were shown charging. One character stated, "We won't have long." A group of people were pictured congregated on a mound. The character Ron Weasley stated, "That doesn't sound good." Harry Potter and others were shown to fall. The character Hermione Grainger said, "Suspendtico" and the group, who were falling, were suspended above the ground. A voice-over stated, "Experience the phenomenon". The voice-over was accompanied by images of a flying dragon and a character vanishing. Another character stated, "Boom!" Flashes of light, torrents of water and fire were then shown. A voice-over then stated, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part two."
The ad was cleared by Clearcast with a presentation code which advised broadcasters to view it before considering whether it was acceptable for transmission in programmes appealing to children under nine years old.
The complainant challenged whether the ad, which appeared on the CITV channel between Jim Jam and Sunny and Pocoyo, was inappropriate for broadcast at times when young children could be watching.
ITV said that they had considered the nature of the ad and the wide appeal of the Harry Potter films across a broad age range of children, including Harry Potter merchandising and literature. Consequently, they believed that the ad was unlikely to be inappropriate for broadcast on CITV.
Warner noted that the British Board of Film Classification classified the film 12A. They said that the ad was broadcast on TV channels and during programmes aimed at the film's target audience. They understood from their advertising agency that TV space for advertising to children could only be bought for an age range of between four and 15 years and that it was not possible to target more specific age groups within that range. They understood that CITV had the largest audience of viewers between the ages of seven and 15 and the second largest for children aged between 12 and 15.
Warner said that the ad consisted of a series of brief scenes which changed rapidly and did not show the characters in a threatening or menacing manner. They believed that the scene with the dragon was set in an obvious fantasy environment. They said the ad featured a lively adult voice-over whose tone was not fearful or terrifying. They believed that the music was upbeat and added to the exciting and adventurous tone of the ad. They believed that the ad was unlikely to threaten or distress the vast majority of young children and therefore did not warrant a scheduling restriction.
Clearcast believed that the ad did not warrant a scheduling restriction. They had, however, added a presentation code, described above, and believed that the ad was not dark and that the dragon shown was not frightening and could appear in any preschool children's book.
The ASA noted the guidance Clearcast gave the broadcasters. We also noted that the ad had been broadcast between Jim Jam and Sunny and Pocoyo, programmes specifically targeted at pre-school children (under 5s).
We acknowledged that the Harry Potter films carried a wide appeal across a broad age range of children. We also noted that the characters featured in the ad were not shown in a threatening manner and that the ad moved rapidly between scenes and was accompanied by an upbeat soundtrack. In that context, we considered that the ad carried an exciting tone, which was unlikely to frighten children. We therefore considered that the ad was unlikely to cause harm or distress to children under nine years old and concluded that the ad was suitable for broadcast on CITV.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
Advertisements that are suitable for older children but could distress younger children must be sensitively scheduled (see Section 32: Scheduling).
(Children) and 32.1 32.1 Broadcasters must exercise responsible judgement on the scheduling of advertisements and operate internal systems capable of identifying and avoiding unsuitable juxtapositions between advertising material and programmes, especially those that could distress or offend viewers or listeners. and 32.3 (Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.