99 problems: Foul-mouthed Sickotoy ad scratched out

SickotoyMusic giant Global Records has been whacked by the ad watchdog after a misogynistic and expletive-filled ad for electro music artist Sickotoy’s single, 2 High 2 Care, appeared on the Baby Toonz Kids TV channel.

The skippable ad ran in October 2022, during the video Funny Scary Dino Family Song | Baby Dino Dodododo Song + More Nursery Rhymes & Kids Song |Baby Songs and featured an animated silhouette of a man walking against a backdrop of a rocky landscape and a purple sky.

The opening lyrics stated, “I’m too fucking high to care” and were repeated throughout the ad. Further lyrics included, “All night taking shots”, “That girl just gave me drugs” and “99 bitches all wanna fuck”. The lyrics were also displayed in large text during the video.

One complainant, who understood that the ad contained explicit language and referred to drug and alcohol use, challenged the Advertising Standards Authority whether the ad was irresponsibly placed because it was seen during a video which was of appeal to children.

In response, Global Records confirmed that the ad was not intended to be seen by those younger than 18 years of age. It said that it had built a custom targeting profile and that had selected 18 as the minimum age of the user to whom the ad would be served.

It further detailed the interest-based targeting measures it had applied to the ad. The ad would be served to those who: (i) had interacted with the Sickotoy YouTube channel previously; (ii) were watching YouTube videos related to Electronic Dance Music (EDM); (iii) had searched for YouTube videos related to EDM and EDM artists; (iv) had previously interacted with similar channels to those included within the Global Records portfolio; or (v) had previously watched EDM YouTube videos.

The firm even provided screenshots of the five targeting criteria which also demonstrated that the “Parental Status” of each target profile had been listed as “all”.

Global Records said that it understood the implications of the ad strategy and had made its best effort to deliver the ads to the target demographic. It highlighted that it was the first time that it had received a complaint of that nature and would continue to investigate the issue.

YouTube confirmed that the ad was served on its platform which was a self-administered system. It said that under the terms of use, it was the advertiser’s responsibility to abide by applicable law and regulations such as the CAP Code.

YouTube emphasised that it offered advertisers a number of different tools to help them target or exclude the type of content that ads appear near, as well as the type of audiences who see ads. It confirmed that the ad was in breach of its ad policies and as such it had taken steps to prevent it from being served again.

In its ruling, the ASA said that in light of the ad’s content, it considered that it should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of children seeing it.

However, because the ad ended up appearing during a video which appealed to children, the ASA ruled that the targeting criteria used by Global Records had proved insufficient, concluding that it had been inappropriately targeted.

Banning the ad from running again, the watchdog warned Global Records to ensure future activity that was unsuitable for viewing by children did not appear in media that was likely to appeal to them.

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