A poster on the London Overground for a live zombie experience (“THE GENERATION OF Z APOCALYPSE”), showed a head of a zombie looking towards the viewer. It had sunken eyes, a pale complexion and blood stained teeth with more blood around its mouth. The ad featured text that stated “THE IMMERSIVE LIVE EXPERIENCE ... THE BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL HAS BEGUN ...”.
Two complainants objected that the ad was unsuitable for display as a poster in an untargeted medium where children could see it.
The Generation of Z Ltd stated that it had not been their intention to cause any offence and that they had only wanted to convey the adult theme of the show to their target audience. They considered that the image of the zombie shown in the ad could be viewed as distasteful and stated that they were now working with a different advertising agency, which was rebranding the show so that it appealed to a wider audience.
JC Decaux, who displayed the poster, stated that they had not received any complaints and that they did not produce the posters and had no sight of the artwork prior to the campaign going public.
The ASA acknowledged that The Generation of Z considered that the image of the zombie shown in the ad could be viewed as distasteful and following a rebranding of the show, a new advertising campaign was to follow.
We understood that at the time the poster appeared the show was targeted at an adult audience. We noted that the poster was highly stylised and designed to promote the horror theme of the show, which featured actors dressed up like zombies and wearing monstrous make-up. While we considered that the sinister image of the zombie would not cause distress to older children and adults, it could distress young children. Therefore, we considered that the poster was unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium where it was likely to be seen by young children. We concluded that the placement of the poster breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social Responsibility).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Generation of Z Ltd that they must ensure that their marketing was responsibly targeted.