A billboard for PRIMEVIL, a horror-themed Halloween event, seen in Norwich in September 2021. The poster included a red-coloured image of a man in a pig mask with oversized fangs. Large graffiti style text stated “I’LL SEE YOU IN YOUR NIGHTMARES”. Further text stated “NORFOLKS [sic] BIGGEST SCARE EXPERIENCE … PRIMEVIL …SCREAMING WON’T HELP”
IssueFive complainants, who believed the ads were distressing for children and adults, challenged whether they were likely to cause fear or distress, and inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium.
Norfolk Dinosaur Park Ltd said the event was marketed towards a teen and adult audience, and they had taken care not to place ads on billboards in areas where young children congregated, near schools or on school run routes.
Commenting on the depiction of the pig-like figure seen in the ad, they said that it had been the title character of the event, Pig Man Pa, and that the images used in the campaign were illustrations, rather than photographs. They said that the ad did not show the character carrying weapons, and that they believed it had not been depicted in an overly aggressive or menacing way.
The ASA acknowledged that the image in the ad, of a pig faced character with bared fangs and blacked out eyes, and the accompanying text “I’ll see you in your nightmares … screaming won’t help”, could be upsetting for some children.
However, we considered that the image, which didn’t contain any overtly violent or threating imagery, was unlikely to be considered realistic by most people.
We further accepted that the image was shown at Halloween, and was closely linked to the themes and imagery of that event. Therefore, the ad was displayed at a time of year where many similar images were on show, and it was not unexpected for ads to reflect related themes. Overall, we considered the image to be relatively mild and unlikely to cause widespread distress to children.
For those reasons, we considered that the poster in this instance was suitable for display in an untargeted medium, even where it was likely to be seen by young children. We concluded that the ad did not breach the Code.
The ad did not breach CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social Responsibility) and 4.2 (Harm and Offence).
No further action necessary.