ASA probes acts of violence to stave off further ad bans

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is launching a report into the use of violence in advertising in a pre-emptive move aimed at stopping further ad bans or restrictions.

The move has been triggered by the recent inquiry launched by Prime Minister Gordon Brown into protecting children from violent video games and inappropriate internet content.

An ASA spokesman says the report has also been prompted by an increased number of complaints “over the years” about the use of violence and aggression in advertising. The ASA report, the first of its kind for the industry, will also be the first major initiative launched by newly installed chairman Chris Smith, the former culture minister who joined the regulator earlier this year.

Lord Smith will launch a debate on the use of such images in advertising, with the aim of evaluating the ASA’s past judgements on violent imagery and where the line should be drawn in future. A report of the debate will then be sent to the ASA’s decision-making council to help with future judgements.

The debate will also focus on other topics such as how to protect children from harmful or offensive ads and the use of knives and guns in advertising.

It will also consider controversial ads such as the 2005 Reebok ad showing rapper 50 Cent counting the nine times he had been shot, then laughing as a voice asked who he planned to “massacre” next. The ad was pulled following complaints.

The debate, which will be held in Nottingham on November 21, will also highlight recent ads such as the MFI commercial featuring a woman slapping her husband around the face because he left the toilet seat up.
The watchdog received complaints that the ad condoned domestic violence, and banned the ad (MW September 27)

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