Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, of which one was Upheld and one was Not upheld.
Four TV ads for the film Evil Dead:
a. The first ad showed an external shot of a cabin followed by a silhouette of a man standing in the doorway shown from the inside. On-screen text and the voice-over stated, "EVIL". A girl was shown running through a forest before the ad cut to a shot of a man inside the cabin looking nervously over his shoulder. On-screen text and the voice-over stated, "IS". A book was shown slamming shut and a girl in a white bloodied dress with her head bowed was shown slowly raising her arms. On-screen text and the voice-over stated, "COMING" followed by a girl walking backwards away from the cabin which was on fire.
b. The second ad was identical to ad (a) other than the final screen.
c. The third ad showed a shot of man sitting at a desk unwrapping and opening a book as the voice-over stated, "I read a passage from that book." A girl was then shown running through the forest before the shot cut to a man by a car and a flooded river. The voice-over continued "I released something evil." A number of clips were then shown including a woman standing and screaming inside a cabin whilst other people cowered across the room from her, a figure rising from a swamp, a man holding a chainsaw, a cabinet mirror breaking in front of a woman's face and a cabin bursting into flames. The clips were interspersed with on-screen quotes from critics that stated "TERRIFYING", JAW-DROPPING" and "ASTONISHING". The ad ended with a woman being pulled from behind through a trapdoor.
d. The fourth ad showed a number of clips from the film including a cabin bursting into flames, a man operating a chainsaw, a knife passing in front of a woman's bloodied face, a figure rising from a swamp, a woman looking over her shoulder with a scared expression and a woman being pulled from behind through a trapdoor.
Ads (a) and (b) were cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant they should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children. Ads (c) and (d) were cleared by Clearcast with a post 7.30 restriction.
The ASA received 28 complaints.
1. Twenty-five complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were inappropriately scheduled.
2. Two complainants challenged whether ad (c) and (d) were inappropriately scheduled and one complainant challenged whether ad (d) was offensive.
Clearcast said they had undertaken a long process viewing the different edits until they were satisfied that the correct scheduling restrictions had been applied.
1. They said they felt ads (a) and (b) had been edited to the point where practically all that remained was announcement copy. They accepted that there was a degree of tension present, but they felt that was necessary to ensure viewers were not misled as to the nature of the film.
2. They said ads (c) and (d) had received stricter scheduling restrictions because the tension was ramped up when compared to ads (a) and (b), but that the ads still omitted some of the gore that was featured in other ads in the campaign, which had received post 21:00 and 23:00 restrictions. They told us they believed the ads were restrained given the nature of the film.
The ASA considered that the scenes in ads (a) and (b) which showed the girl in the bloodied dress and the log cabin burning could cause distress to young children. Furthermore, we considered that the voice-over stating, "Evil is coming" along with the use of swift cuts, darkly lit scenes and eerie music created a sinister and tension-filled atmosphere. Whilst we acknowledged that the ads had been given an ex-kids restriction and had therefore not been broadcast around programmes that were of particular appeal to children, we considered that they were inappropriate for broadcast during the day when young children might be watching and we concluded that ads (a) and (b) should have been given a post 7.30 restriction.
The ads breached 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).
2. Not upheld
Whilst we acknowledged that some adults would find ad (d) distasteful, we did not consider that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence to adults and we therefore concluded that it did not breach the Code in that regard.
We considered that the atmosphere of ads (c) and (d) was similar to that in ads (a) and (b), but that there was an elevated level of threat, partly due to a greater use of scenes involving people who appeared frightened or distressed, including a woman audibly screaming in ad (c) and a bloodied knife passing in front of the face of a woman who appeared to be frightened in ad (d). However, we considered that the post 7.30 restriction was sufficient to ensure that they would not be broadcast when young children, who might be distressed by them, would be watching and we concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled.
On this point, we investigated ads (c) and (d) under BCAP Code rules 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. and 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and offence) and 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) but did not find them in breach.
Ads (a) and (b) must not be broadcast again before 7.30pm. No further action was necessary in respect of ads (c) and (d).