Three ads for film Paranormal Activity 3 which were broadcast from 7.30pm received 29 complaints and have been deemed unsuitable for viewing at that time.
One of the ads featured a girl talking an her ‘invisible friend’ before furniture started to more around violently, another showed a woman screaming as she was thrown through the air by something unseen, and the third showed two girls chanting ‘Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary’ before a figure appeared in the hallway.
Clearcast had cleared the ads to be shown after 7.30pm, but 15 complainants challenged whether the ads were suitable to show before 9pm.
All 29 complainants suggested the ads were likely to cause distress to children and adults, with nine reporting that their children, aged between 10 and 16 years, had been upset by the ads, and 11 reporting personal distress.
Clearcast said it believed the ads would be seen by an audience old enough to recognise them as trailers for a thriller/horror film set in fantasy.
The ASA considered that, although the ads were brief, the general tone was one of fear and threat, with young children screaming in two ads and a screaming woman being thrown violently backwards in another.
The body said: “We noted the ads appeared to have been shot on a home video camera and took place in a recognisable domestic setting, with ordinary people, which added to the sense of threat.
“We noted the ages of those children reportedly upset by the ads ranged from 10 to 16 years. Although we acknowledged that the restriction preventing the ads from being shown before 7.30 pm had kept the material away from younger children, we considered that the overall atmosphere of fear and menace portrayed was nonetheless likely to be upsetting to some older children watching television after that time. We considered that a post 7.30 pm restriction was not sufficient and a post 9pm restriction ought to have been applied in order to minimise the possibility of children seeing the ads.”