A TV ad for a competition related to the film “Nerve”, seen on 3 August 2016, featured a voice-over that stated, “Welcome to Nerve. Nerve is like truth or dare, minus the truth. To celebrate the release of Nerve, we are giving you the chance to win a cash prize. We just want you to show some nerve. Head to mtv.co.uk/nerve to choose a dare, then share it at @MTVUK with #MTVGOTNERVE to enter. Are you ready to play?”. The voice-over was accompanied by scenes from the film, including a man on a skateboard holding onto the back of a moving car, a group of men jumping into the sea from a cliff, a man hanging from a crane, a man on a motorbike speeding through a red light, a woman walking across a ladder horizontally spanning the gap between two buildings, someone falling from a crane, and a man lying between train tracks as a train passed over him.
The ad was given a post-9 pm scheduling restriction by Clearcast, which meant that it should not be shown before 9 pm or in or around programmes made for, or likely to be of particular appeal to, children.
The complainant challenged whether the ad condoned or encouraged dangerous practices.
MTV Networks Europe (MTV) agreed with Clearcast’s and Sky UK Ltd’s responses (below) and did not have any further comments.
Lions Gate International (UK) Ltd (Lionsgate) said they were not involved in compiling the TV ad or the mechanics of the competition, and considered they did not hold responsibility for the ad. They said their only involvement was providing access to the clips from the film which would be featured in the ad, and approving the placement of those clips. Their approval was restricted to ensuring that the clips were not cut, edited or manipulated in any way that would conflict with the film’s style-guide or the spirit of the film.
Sky UK Ltd t/a Sky Media explained that the ad was part of a ‘Partnerships’ campaign they had organised on behalf of Lionsgate and MTV; they considered Sky Media was the promoter. The ad had been made to a Sky Media brief and was not subject to editorial control by MTV. Sky Media’s creative agency had worked with Clearcast to ensure the ad was approved. Clearcast had approved the ad subject to a post-9 pm scheduling restriction.
Clearcast said they had applied scheduling restrictions to the ad recommending that it should not be broadcast before 9 pm, and highlighting that the risk of emulation would be serious and likely to result in serious harm. They highlighted that the ad directed viewers to the MTV website to find out more about the competition, which required participants to choose one of three dares: submit a social media clip of themselves celebrating as they would if they were to win; hug a random stranger in the street; or do a victory dance at a bus stop in front of random people.
Clearcast felt the 9 pm timing restriction would keep the ad away from children, and that those who did act on the ad and entered the competition would find out from the website that they had to choose dares which were not considered harmful compared to what was shown in the ad. They did not consider the competition to be irresponsible as the scheduling restriction ensured it would be kept away from young people and the competition itself did not encourage dangerous behaviour.
The ad was for a MTV-branded competition which was based on the premise of the Lionsgate film “Nerve”. The ad began by featuring the MTV and Lionsgate logos, described the competition, featured scenes from the film and stated the date the film would be opening in cinemas. The ad therefore jointly publicised MTV’s competition and Lionsgate’s film. The ASA understood that Sky Media had been contracted to organise the joint promotional activity, and design and schedule the ad, but we considered that MTV and Lionsgate were the advertisers for the purposes of the Code.
The ad featured scenes showing young adults engaged in a succession of highly dangerous activities. Various scenes had the appearance of being filmed on mobile phones, including some which featured overlaid graphics to look like video clips on social media. A couple of scenes were shot as if the viewer were looking up through the screen of a smartphone, including a shot with overlaid social media-type graphics which showed a woman swiping the word “ACCEPT”. Those scenes established the film’s theme of young people daring each other, via social media, to video themselves undertaking dangerous behaviour and post the video on social media as proof they had completed the challenge. We noted that the theme tapped into an ongoing trend in youth culture of young people challenging each other on social media into potentially dangerous behaviour, such as ‘Neknominate’ and the ‘Cinnamon Challenge’.
We acknowledged the competition did not require participants to engage in any of the behaviour featured in the ad, and that some scenes showed the negative consequences of such behaviour. However, we considered that in the context of youth culture around social media challenges, the ad’s challenge to viewers to “show some nerve” in accompaniment with the scenes of young people engaging in dangerous behaviour condoned, and was likely to encourage, behaviour that prejudiced health or safety. We acknowledged Clearcast had applied a scheduling restriction to prevent the ad being broadcast before 9 pm, but we considered that because it both condoned dangerous practices and was likely to encourage viewers, particularly teenagers and young adults, to engage in dangerous practices, it should not have been broadcast at any time. We concluded the ad therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 4.4 4.4 Advertisements must not include material that is likely to condone or encourage behaviour that prejudices health or safety. (Harm and offence).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained about.