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UK watchdog bans Spotify ad that was "distressing" for kids

By midian182 · 15 replies
Oct 17, 2018
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  1. The sixty-second ad, which ran on the video site in June this year, has been banned in the UK. It’s designed to resemble a horror movie trailer, with a Chucky/Annabelle/Puppet Master-style creepy doll that comes to life every time Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana’ is played.

    With the doll “implicitly attacking” the characters and an included homage to Freddy Krueger’s ‘long arms’ scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street, ASA said the ad is "particularly likely" to scare younger viewers.

    ASA was also concerned that the ad was shown on YouTube’s DanTDM, which has 20 million subscribers. It says the gaming channel would have particular appeal to children as it often features games popular among their age group, such as Fortnite.

    In defending the ad, Spotify said it ensured there were no violent or overly frightening scenes, that it was aimed at adults in the 18 – 34 age bracket, could be skipped and included content exclusion to ensure it wasn’t shown alongside shocking or graphic content.

    The music streaming company added that 73 percent of DanTDM’s audience was aged between 18 and 44. It also said that the soundtrack and the "Killer songs you can't resist" tagline showed it was a “tongue-in-cheek” spoof and not intentionally scary.

    Spotify has now apologized for the ad. “We acknowledge the ruling from the ASA and regret any distress the ad may have caused the complainant," said the firm, in a statement. The watchdog told Spotify to ensure its future ads are fit for children to watch, and those unsuitable for younger viewers are targeted appropriately.

    Permalink to story.

  2. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,644   +304

    > 73 percent of DanTDM’s audience was aged between 18 and 44

    So 27% under 18? Doesn't seem like a very good excuse. Would they show porn on the channel because 'it's mostly adults that view it'?
    Capaill likes this.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,027   +3,426

    I'm certainly not in favor of any form of censorship, but when these folks create this sort of material in a place and time where enforcement of any kind of age limits on viewing is nearly impossible, it may be the only way. Children are subjected to so much that can be counter productive to their development that if we don't get a handle on it soon our base of citizens will continue to be widely and negatively affected.

    The old rules of decency and good taste have been replaced by marketing and shock factors in order to increase earnings. Could the answer be to train these children to grow up and attack & destroy all marketers, salespeople, and anyone that attempts to influence them? Kind of scary if you give it any serious thought ......
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,113   +1,535

    Too bad they didn't say Happy Halloween at the end.
  5. Adorerai

    Adorerai TS Enthusiast Posts: 46   +19

    Well, porn is not really even comparable in this situation. The ad is not even close to being "adult" material. The doll looks a little creepy and there was maybe 1 scene that implied violence. In the US that would probably be rated in the PG-13 range.

    Heck, the old movies "Home Alone" which was targeted to children showed more actual "violence" than this did.
  6. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Posts: 1,588   +373

    I don't see what the problem is. That commercial was awesome and appropriate for the Halloween season. Whether or not it mentions Halloween is irrelevant. It was creepy, sure, but nothing in it would have given it an R-rating in the movie theater. My 11-year-old daughter watches DanTDM and I would have no problem with her seeing this ad. In fact, she would love it as she loves horror movies. The content of the ad is PG at most.

    What is really going on here is the nanny state deciding for us what we can and can't watch. So what happens if a kid watches this and gets scared? Really? Is this something that is going to traumatize them for life? Please. Me and my brother used to watch scary movies with our heads buried under a blanket for half the show. Kids are not stupid when it comes to this kind of thing. If it's too scary they turn it off, close their eye, or otherwise bury their heads under the covers. This is all a big over reaction by the state.
  7. MannerMauler

    MannerMauler TS Addict Posts: 206   +53

    While this ad doesn't seem that bad, my little sister (she was about seven at the time) was terrified when her friend told her about Chuckie. She's almost ten now and is still scared to go into dark rooms alone. She even takes one of our dogs to the restroom with her from time to time. I understand why they didn't like this ad. Some kids, like me or you when we were that age, didn't have a problem, but some kids are really sensitive when it comes to this kind of stuff. If I had a kid who was prone to nightmares, I'd be pretty freaking mad if he or she saw something like this while watching like Minecraft or Fortnite.
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  8. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,746   +1,144

    As said already, simply can't compare.

    However, it's a subscribed channel, it's either suscribe or unsubscribe. I don't really see the issue.
  9. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Posts: 1,552   +348

    I don't like the idea of censoring content like this in general, but I can also understand it. As a kid, I was always pretty terrified of horror, even silly slasher films were enough to give me nightmares. And I wasn't coddled in any way, for some reason my brain just worked like that.

    Plus, I think the ad was kind of garbage anyway. Relies on shock value to draw some pretty crazy parallels between a music streaming service and horror.

    Dunno. Don't much care either way here. Suppose it sucks for Spotify, but it's probably a win for kids who might have stumbled across this while watching Minecraft videos on YouTube.
  10. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Posts: 1,588   +373

    Kids under 13 are not legally allowed to play Minecraft or Fortnite in the United States without parental consent due to the online aspect. It would violate COPPA. Bottomline is if parents are allowing their child to view, listen to, or play what are essentially PG-13 content, it is the parent being irresponsible, not the content provider or advertiser.
    Kibaruk likes this.
  11. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Posts: 1,552   +348

    But, my friend, they can watch videos of it and that's completely legal. :p
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  12. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Posts: 1,588   +373

    Depends. To subscribe to channels like DanTDM you must have a Google Account. In order to have a Google Account one must be 13 or older. That does not prevent a 10-year-old from watching while not signed in, but again where are the parents? My daughter is 11 and while I've become more lax in checking here history than I was when she was younger because she is more responsible, I still check it. I still look over here shoulder when she is watching something. Why? Because I'm here dad. Do I want the govt. telling me what they think she is capable of handling content-wise? Hell no. Do I want the govt. limiting MY exposure to content because they think my daughter can't handle it? Hell to the nah. And the latter is what seems to be happening in this case. I might not have every seen what I think is very cool content for an ad had it not made headlines.
    Polycount likes this.
  13. Polycount

    Polycount TS Evangelist Posts: 1,552   +348

    This is a fair point, in particular. By banning the ad outright, they prevent even the (probably) target audience -- who is much older -- from seeing it. That's not ideal no matter how you slice it.

    I guess this is where we'd have to (yuck) rely on personalization for the best possible result. Perhaps ad systems that detect a user is, say, under-13 could avoid showing the ad. Maybe that's how it already works (worked?).
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  14. Cal Jeffrey

    Cal Jeffrey TS Evangelist Posts: 1,588   +373

    It does indeed work like this in some cases. I just had experience with such a case last Sunday. I bought Assassin's Creed Origins because it was 50% off on the PlayStation Store. I made the mistake of introducing my daughter to discovery mode and she got hooked. She asked if she could buy it for her PS4 with her allowance. I agreed but when we went to buy it, it was not even listed in the store.

    Anyway, a long conversation with Sony CS later I learned that some games publishers run a check against the PSN account and will restrict listing according to age.

    So this type of restriction that you mention does work at least for some instances, but even then look at the hassle I had to go through (which I won't get into here) was BS for a game that I approved her to play.
  15. PcePce

    PcePce TS Enthusiast Posts: 63   +19

    Just what we need: progressively more sheltered generations of young adults unable to cope with stressful or frightening realities because they're too precious and fragile to be scared once-in-a-while in a completely safe environment at a young age. This will pay off beautifully.

    Of course, this is probably just pandering to parents because someone complained. Their kids are screwed regardless of whether they see scary ads.
    Cal Jeffrey likes this.
  16. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,644   +304

    No, but the flaw in logic is. Saying 'it's not that bad' is perfectly fine, although it can be argued with. Saying 'most of the viewers are adult' is stupid, because we're not talking about adults, but about the significant percentage of kids on that channel.

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