Asda's 'distressing' possession ad escapes ASA ban despite dozens of complaints

Asda's 2017 Halloween effort, which featured a little girl dressed as a witch who appeared to be possessed, has escaped a ban from the advertising regulator despite dozens of complaints from the public.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said 62 people complained about the grocer's campaign which depicted the girl being transfixed by a radio before her eyes turned green and she began to dance in a rigid manner. She was then shown lip syncing to Word Up by Cameo, along with other children, at what appeared to be a Halloween party.

Complaints centered around the fact the ad was scheduled inappropriately and that as a result the film had "distressed" young children.

Asda said that the scheduling of the ad was proposed by its creative agency and agreed by Clearcast prior to broadcast. The brand noted that the ad did not feature any "gory scenes or scenes showing blood" or "people who were visibly distressed"; neither did it feature scenes that were likely to make the audience "jump".

The ASA sided with the advertiser, asserting: "While we considered the ad was likely to distress very young children, we had not seen any evidence that it had been broadcast during programming principally directed at, or of strong appeal to, that particular group.

"We therefore concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and did not breach the Code."

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