Marketing & the Marginalized Brand Safety Creativity

Valentino slammed for inadequate warnings on ads that could trigger epilepsy

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By Ellen Ormesher | Reporter

September 14, 2022 | 4 min read

Italian fashion house receives criticism for a targeted promotion that features flashing images.

Valentino

At present, there is minimal regulation for brands creating photosensitive ads on social media / Image via Valentino

People with epilepsy have taken to Twitter to complain about an ad from luxury fashion brand Valentino. The spot, which promotes its new collection in collaboration with the author Douglas Coupland, features flashing images and photo repetition across a black and pink background and has been criticized for having the potential to cause seizures.

While the ad included a trigger warning about the flashing imagery in the copy above the post, Twitter users also pointed out that the nature of the ad’s autoplay means that people with epilepsy could be exposed to the ad before being able to click away.

“You are promoting directly into timelines without warning and it autoplays, not allowing those with photosensitive epilepsy who do not have the correct settings the chance not to view. Please do not do this,” said one user.

“When they say ‘viewer discretion is advised,’ this is a promoted ad and targeted to me. It’s not at my discretion, is it?” said another.

At present, there is minimal regulation for brands creating photosensitive ads on social media, though leading epilepsy advocacy organizations are campaigning to change this.

However, exposure of around three to 30 flashes per second is enough to trigger a seizure, and researchers estimate that one in every 1,000 people with epilepsy dies suddenly each year – approximately 600 a year in the UK and 3,000 in the US.

The Drum reached out directly to Maison Valentino for comment but had received no reply at the time of publication.

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