Paranormal Activity 3 ads censured by ASA

A series of three TV ads for the third instalment of the Paranormal Activity movie franchise have been banned from broadcast before 9pm by the advertising watchdog after viewers complained the spots had caused distress to them and their children.

Paranormal Activity 3

The ads, each 10-seconds long, featured quick changing scenes shot in the style of video and surveillance camera footage from the Paranormal Activity 3 film (see video below).

The ads interspersed between the characters in the film, one featuring a woman screaming and being thrown violently on to a bed, one depicting young girls screaming and a silhouette of a figure, and another showing furniture being tossed around the room, seemingly by a poltergeist.

Viewers challenged whether the ads were likely to cause distress to both children and adults, with nine of those complainants reporting that their children, aged between 10 and 16 years had been upset by the ads.

The ads were cleared by Clearcast to run after 7.30pm, but viewers also challenged whether the ads should have a post 9pm restriction.

Paramount Pictures said while the ads had the potential to cause distress to some viewers, the short duration of the spots “alleviated” the potential for harm or offence because they did not maintain a level of sustained threat and tension to leave a lasting impression on the average consumer.

The absence of interpersonal violence, gore or monsters meant the vast majority of viewers would be excited by the tone of the ads without exploiting their fears or superstitions as they would know it was a trailer for a thriller or horror movie, the film company added.

The Advertising Standards Authority said although the ads were brief, the general tone was of fear and the way the spots were shot – appearing to be from a home video camera – only increased the threatening overtone.

The watchdog added that although the post 7.30pm restriction had kept the material away from younger children, it noted that older children had been disturbed by the ads, and that a post 9pm restriction should have been applied.


Latest from Marketing Week

Influencers, consultancies and the recruitment crisis: The key topics of conversation at Cannes Lions

cannes lions

Cannes Lions 2018: Marketers turned out in force to advertising’s biggest annual event. But away from the usual talk of purpose and creativity, some big issues such as the recruitment crisis, how advertising responds to the #MeToo movement and cleaning up the influencer marketing space were discussed.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here