Marketing Brand Safety Mobile Games

Bizarrely saucy ad for puzzle game spanked by ASA


By John Glenday | Reporter

April 6, 2022 | 3 min read

An in-game ad for a Google Play mobile app featuring cropped close-ups of a character’s breasts and buttocks has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Brain Story

This buttock-baring Google Play in-game ad has been slapped down by the ASA

Brain Story: Tricky Puzzle focused on alternative parts of the human anatomy for its risque advertising, in which two female video game characters are shown slapping each other’s buttocks while a voiceover intones ‘play now.’

Clicking on the link brought up an animation of a woman with her arms tied to the ceiling and feet resting on a table, giggling with a partially exposed bra while her feet are tickled by a paintbrush.

Players were quick to cry foul over such representation, arguing that it ‘objectified and sexualized women’ and had been ‘irresponsibly targeted’ – both issues subsequently upheld by the ASA.

Neither the publisher ABI Games nor the developers Beresnev Games and WePlay Word Games responded to requests for comment – a violation of the CAP Code, which insists on prompt responses to enquiries.

Stepping into this vacuum, the ASA upheld the complaints on both points, stating: “... the ad’s female characters were very similar in appearance, with elongated limbs, small waistlines, large breasts and tight, short outfits that partially exposed their large buttocks. We also noted that the scenario depicted was a game of chance in which losers had to perform a sexually suggestive forfeit and that the nature of that forfeit was determined by the player’s choice between cropped close-up shots of the characters’ breasts, buttocks or groin.

“We considered that those elements of the ad depicted the female characters as sexual objects, stripped of any agency or personality in their portrayal as entirely obedient to the player’s commands. We considered that this objectified and stereotyped women by presenting them as objects in a scenario designed for the purpose of titillating viewers.”

As the ad was seen in two games rated PEGI 3, suitable for all age groups, a further strike was issued against the advertiser for failing to take proper steps to minimize the likelihood of under-18s being exposed.

Combined with the use of gender stereotypes and objectifying women, the matter has now been referred to the CAP’s compliance team.

The case follows that of a distasteful soup advert banned for its focus on male genitalia.

Marketing Brand Safety Mobile Games

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