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14th December

  Screaming 'inappropriate'...

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ASA rejects whinge about a radio advert for the scary movie Lights Out
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Lights Out DVD Billy BurkeA radio ad for the film Lights Out , broadcast on 16 August at 7:25 pm on Capital Radio East Midlands, featured an introductory voice-over stating, From the visionary filmmaker behind the Conjuring . A child's voice then said, Every time I turn the lights off, there's this woman. A woman said I've been seeing her too , followed by a scream. The voice-over continued, Critics are calling it one of the year's best horrors. The woman then said, Everyone is afraid of the dark, and that's what she feeds on. There was the sound of more screaming. The voice-over said, Chilling. The woman said, We need to leave. The voice-over continued, It will leave you sleeping with the lights on. The child said, She won't let that happen. The woman, sounding very distressed, shouted, Stay in the light! , followed by sinister noises. The voice-over said, Lights Out. In cinemas Friday. Certificate 15.

A complainant challenged whether the ad had been scheduled appropriately, because it had frightened her child.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

The ASA noted that, in line with the plot of the film, the audio clips in the ad suggested that there was something threatening associated with being in the dark or having the lights off. We acknowledged that a fear of the dark was common among young children. We agreed with Radiocentre that the ominous tone of the ad meant that it should have been scheduled away from times when children aged under 16 were likely to be listening in order to minimise the possibility of children hearing it.

Prior to scheduling the ad, This is Global had consulted RAJAR figures for the time that the ad was to be aired and those figures had shown that the under-16 segment typically comprised a low proportion of the audience at that time. The ad had been heard during school holidays, when children's listening patterns might be expected to differ slightly compared to term time. However, we noted that RAJAR figures for the specific day and time that the ad was broadcast showed that only 7% of the listening audience was under 16, which we considered minimal. We concluded that the scheduling advice given by Radiocentre was appropriate and that it had been applied responsibly by the broadcasters, and that the ad therefore did not breach the Code.

We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 5.1 (Children), 32.1 and 32.3 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.


5th December

  Advertising its new chief censor...

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ASA appoint David Currie as new Chairman
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david currieDavid Currie has been appointed Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority and will succeed the current Chairman, Chris Smith next year.

The appointment was announced by the Advertising Standards Board of Finance, the bodies that fund the advertising self-regulation system, following consultation with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS), Ofcom and the Advertising Association.

Currie has good experience of media censorship as he was the founding Chairman of Ofcom.

Currie will take up his position from 1 October 2017.


10th November

  Stupid Stunts...

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Advert censor bans promotional competition for the film Nerve, claiming that even young adults need protection from seeing dangerous practises on TV
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Nerve DVD Emma RobertsA 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 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.

A complainant challenged whether the ad condoned or encouraged dangerous practices.

Assessment: Complaint upheld

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 must not appear again in the form complained about.


3rd November

  Dog-eared complaint...

ASA dismisses another whinge about a beer advert from the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council
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1664 alsations advertA Youtube ad for Kronenbourg, seen on 18 June 2016, featured Eric Cantona playing a fictional character who, with two dogs who wore barrels containing Kronenbourg around their necks, said delivered Kronenbourg to the deserving . In other words, to people who had experienced unfortunate mishaps or who had enjoyed improbable success. The character stated Here in Alsace, live the most intelligent dogs in the world, the Alsace-tians. They deliver Kronenbourg to the deserving . In one scenario, a monk who had been ringing church bells had become entangled in the ropes and the dogs set him free. Afterwards he was given a pint of Kronenbourg. In another scenario, a local postman had fallen off his bike into a snowdrift and was trapped in the snow. The dogs dug him out of the snow and he was then seen sitting on a rock shivering holding a pint of Kronenbourg. In a third scenario, an actor was on stage playing a dramatic suicide scene and Eric Cantona's character in the audience was seen rolling his eyes and sighing, as though he disliked the actor's performance. Once the performance was over, the actor received a standing ovation from the rest of the audience and the Alsace-tian dogs delivered his pint of Kronenbourg in recognition of his success. In the final scene, Eric Cantona's character stated Man's best friend delivering one of man's greatest achievements. A taste supreme .

The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) challenged whether the ad implied that alcohol:

  1. could enhance confidence; and

  2. had therapeutic qualities, and was capable of changing mood, physical condition or behaviour.

Heineken pointed out that the scenarios had been resolved by the time the beer was consumed and the scenes ended after the characters had taken a sip of Kronenbourg. They believed that no continued physical or emotional uplift was shown which could be attributed to the effect of the beer, and that it was not implied through the visuals or narrative that Kronenbourg had any therapeutic or restorative properties. They believed the ad implied that the characters were grateful for the unexpected offer of a refreshing and locally popular beer.

ASA Assessment: Complaint not upheld

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted that the actor did not receive or consume alcohol before or during his performance, and it was only after he had finished his final scene, and had taken a bow, that the Alsace-tian dogs ran onto the stage and delivered a glass of Kronenbourg. We also noted that the audience reacted positively to his performance before the dogs appeared on stage with the beer. We therefore considered that the ad did not imply that it was the Kronenbourg that had given him confidence in the later part of his performance, or that it had enhanced his popularity with the audience, and we concluded that it did not breach the Code.

2. Not upheld

We noted that in both scenarios, the dogs rescued the trapped villagers as soon as they appeared on the scene and that after they had been released, they were given a Kronenbourg. We noted that the monk was seen smiling as he brought the glass to his mouth and closed his eyes as he took a sip of the beer. We noted that the postman was shivering as he brought the glass to his mouth and, after taking a sip, he waved to Eric Cantona as a gesture of gratitude.

We considered that, although the men appeared pleased, the situations portrayed implied that any improvement in their mood was due to their relief at having been rescued from unpleasant situations, coupled with their gratitude at having received an unexpected gift of a free beer. We considered that because the beer was consumed at the very end of the scenes after the rescues had taken place, there was no suggestion that it was the consumption of the beer, rather than the act of being rescued, that had improved their mood. We also considered, for the same reason, that there was no suggestion that the beer had therapeutic properties that had helped the villagers either get out of or recover from their ordeals.

In the case of the postman, we noted he was still shivering after having taken a sip of the beer, although slightly less markedly, but we attributed that to him warming up naturally as a result of no longer being in the mound of snow, rather than having taken a small sip of beer. We considered therefore the ad did not suggest it was the consumption of beer that had improved his physical condition.

For those reasons, we concluded that the ad did not imply that alcohol had therapeutic properties, or was capable of changing mood, physical condition or behaviour.

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Advertising Standards Authority

The ASA group writes and enforces advertising rules across most of UK media (including websites as of 1st March 2011)

  • ASA administer the group, deal with complaints from members of the public and enforce the advertising rules

  • CAP, Committee of Advertising Practice,  write and advise about the non-broadcast advertising rules

  • BCAP, Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice,  write and advise about the broadcast advertising rules


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Clearcast (UK)

Clearcast are not official regulators. They are a group funded by broadcasters. Clearcast maintain expertise about ASA/TV advertising rules for the benefit of broadcasters and advertisers.

Broadcast advertisers submit adverts to Clearcast for approval. Clearcast also assign child protection restrictions.

Clearcast decisions can be, and often are, challenged by the ultimate advertising censors of the ASA


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Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (UK)

The RACC is not an official censor. It is funded by commercial radio stations to maintain expertise and provide advice about the current radio advertising rules.

Radio advertisers then pay copy clearance fees to the RACC.

Commercial radio stations have to ensure advertising compliance.

They must follow the rules of The BCAP UK Code of Broadcast Advertising.


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Ofcom (UK)

Ofcom is the UK TV censor. Advertising on TV is usually left to the ASA. However in the case of TV channels which exist primarily to advertise premium rate telephone services (such as babe channels) Ofcom administer the censorship, but use broadcast advertising rules as maintained by BCAP.


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