In brief: Spotify has found itself in trouble with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a YouTube ad the organization deemed “unduly distressing” to young audiences.
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.