Sony Pictures has been sent to the advertising dungeon for showing trailers for the grizzly horror movie “Insidious: The Last Key” – featuring a woman being attacked by a demonic figure – around videos featuring songs from Disney film Frozen and how to build a Lego fire station.
The ads, which were unskippable for the first five seconds, featured footage of screaming women, humanoid creatures with talons and grinning, fanged demons which suddenly appeared in front of the camera.
Given their graphic nature, it is perhaps surprising that only five people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority.
In its response, Sony Pictures Releasing UK insisted it had targeted the YouTube ads towards an audience of 18 or over, and wanted to make sure the trailer was not shown before videos with “unknown audiences”. It also excluded videos that were “suitable for families” and by adding more than 1,000 negative keywords, including words that appeal to children.
However, both YouTube and Sony blamed each other, with YouTube stressing that the ads were not shown on YouTube Kids, the app on which it recommends children view the channel. YouTube told the ASA that advertisers are “responsible for determining the appropriate targeting” for their own campaigns.
The ASA upheld the complaints on the basis that the ads were “excessively frightening and shocking,” and therefore unsuitable for children, adding that the unexpected placement of the ads even rendered them “likely to cause excessive fear or distress for some adults”.
YouTube escaped unscathed.
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