Call of Duty ad shot down by ASA

A TV ad for computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, that featured violent scenes of cities under armed attack has been banned by the advertising watchdog for being “harmful and offensive” to younger viewers.

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The ad featured cities including London, New York City and Paris under military assault with buildings catching fire and soldiers and vehicles firing weapons. A voiceover stated: “The world as you knew it is gone. How far will you go to bring it back?”.

It sparked complaints that it was inappropriate for broadcast during the day when children may be watching because it could frighten them. The ad was broadcast during a Premier League football match on Sky Sports 1 at 2.30pm.

Activision, the creator of the game, explained the ad had been given an “ex kids” restriction by Clearcast and was rated by the British Board of Film Classification as a PG certificate, and that this classification was passed on to its media buyers. The company understood that since the ad was not shown before, during or after a children’s TV programme, this satisfied the ex kids restriction.

The Advertising Standards Authority said the ad could have caused distress to children who might have seen the ad, owing to the scenes of violence and destruction, together with sound effects of weapons being fired, explosions and shouting, although it did consider the ex kids and PG ratings.

The watchdog said the spot breached advertising code for its potential to cause harm and offence and inappropriate scheduling. It ruled the ad must not be broadcast again before 7.30pm.

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