It’s been a while since we’ve seen an advertising poster banned for being “offensive”, but this one’s a doozy. And yes, before you ask, it’s Sony who are responsible for it this time around, too. (Remember the drama over their white PSP advertising?)
This time around, it’s a PlayStation Move “Move into the Fight” poster that was used in the UK. It’s now been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after people complained that it was “offensive, irresponsible and inappropriate for public display”.
The problem? A man, shown in three different poses, throwing punches before holding another character in a headlock. To further accent the violence, the first man holds his arm high, as if to punch his opponent in the face.
Eight people complained about the advertising, claiming that it contained graphic violence, potentially encouraging violent behaviour.
And then, of course, there’s the issue of race – two people observed that the game player was white, and the computer character (the one being tackled) was black. Hey presto – racist violence!
Sony have spoken out and said that the poster was designed to advertise the controller and not any specific game. They also explain that the company had “taken steps to ensure that the images were not graphic”, and did not specifically target children, or feature any kids in their ads.
Not enough, however, with the advertising authority finding in favour of the complaints. The images in the ad were considered likely to “condone or encourage violent behaviour”, and that could cause serious offense to the viewing public. In addition, the ad was unsuitable for children – a cause for concern in the largely kid-friendly world of video games.
However, the authority did not accept the story that the images showed a racist attack. The two men had “slightly different skin tones”, and it was unlikely that anyone viewing the ad would interpret it as condoning racist violence.
Still, the ad has now been banned, and must never appear in its current form.