Non-broadcast Adjudications

Midway Games Ltd

43 Worship Street
London
EC2A 2DX

Date: 21st December 2005
Media: Internet
Sector: Leisure
Complaint(s) from: Middlesex
Complaint type: Public
Agency: Maverick Media

Complaint

Objection to an online video ad, for a computer game, that appeared on www.viralchart.com and www.ttr2.co.uk. The video showed a meeting in an office where two workers were forced to settle a dispute by fighting; at first they puched each other and grappled. One man was then stabbed in the arm with a pencil, the other hit over the head with a glass vase. The victor ripped the other man's heart from his chest. At the end of the video another man was decapitated with a hat. The complainant, a journalist, objected that the ad was offensive, violent and not suitable to be viewed by children.

Codes section: 2.2, 5.1, 9.1, 11.1, 47.2

Adjudication

Complaint upheld
Midway Games Ltd (Midway) said the ad had been prepared by Maverick Media. Maverick Media apologised for any offence that the ad may have caused, but considered that the clip was suitable for the websites on which it was placed.

www.ttr2.co.uk said their website was known for publishing and linking content suitable for a mature audience only and considered that their readers would not be offended by the ad. They said the website was aimed at men aged 18 to 40 years and pointed out that the website contained a warning that stated "This website and some of the content published are not recommended to be viewed by anyone under 18". They said the clip had been marked as SNSFW (Slightly Not Safe For Work) and that readers would therefore be aware that it was suitable for adults only. www.ttr2.co.uk said they considered the ad humourous rather than shocking; they had recieved no complaints about the ad.

www.viralchart.com said their website was designed to help businesses track and measure the success of viral marketing campaigns; they said the website was not aimed at consumers who wanted to view viral ads. They said visitors to their site were advertisers checking the popularity of their own or other firms' viral ads and that they would not be offended by the content of the ad. They said they had not recieved complaints about the ad.

The ASA considered that, although the ad was intended to be humourous, because it both condoned and glorified violence and contained some scenes which could be emulated, it was irresponsible. We considered that the ad was likely to cause fear or distress and serious or widespread offence and that Midway Games had used shocking images to attract attention to their product. We told Midway not to repeat the approach and told them to consult CAP Copy Advice before producing future ads.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 2.2 (Principles), 5.1 (Decency), 9.1 (Fear and Distress), 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) and 47.2 (Children).


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