Spotify has had to pull down its ad for ‘unjustifiably’ distressing children.
The advert was patterned after a horror film that showed young people being menaced by a scary doll when they played a particular song came on.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ads setting were ‘particularly likely’ to scare younger viewers. Spotify has been advised to ensure it makes its future adverts fit for children to watch and are targeted appropriately.
In a statement, Spotify said: ‘We acknowledge the ruling from the ASA and regret any distress the ad may have caused the complainant.’
An ad for breast enlargement which was shown during ITV’s Love Island was also banned.
The questionable ad was aired in June 2018 and it contained different scenes of young people repeatedly playing Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana” which also woke a ‘chucky style doll’ that moves on to scare characters every time the track is played.
The ad generated a complaint that it:
- had caused distress to a child
- was being shown on a YouTube channel younger viewers were likely to watch
And the ASA upheld both of these complaints ‘in part.’
The implied violence in the clip, its music, the reactions of the characters and the abrupt ways the doll appeared all served to make it likely to scare children, said the ASA.
‘The fact that the ad was set inside a home, including a bedtime setting, and featured a doll, meant it was particularly likely to cause distress to children who saw it,’ it said in its ruling.
Spotify has been told to target ads appropriately in the future
Not enough had been done to make it clear that the advert was not a trailer for a horror movie, it said.
The ASA said that the advert had been scheduled to run before content connected with a video game suitable for players aged 10 or above. And, it said, the channel it had appeared on was designed to attract a younger audience.
Spotify pointed to the absence of any violence and gore as a defense against the charges against ‘implied violence’
The soundtrack and onscreen text – ‘killer songs you can’t resist’ – helped establish it was intended to be ‘tongue-in-cheek,’ and not genuinely scary.
In addition, it said, 73% of the audience for the channel the ad appeared on was aged between 18 and 44.
After the ruling, it said: ‘We take our responsibilities as a marketer very seriously and continue to be mindful of the ASA’s guidance on the effective and appropriate targeting of advertising campaigns.’