SALT LAKE CITY — A British advertising watchdog group ruled that a recent Spotify advertisement ahead of Halloween is too spooky for children.
What’s going on: Spotify released a minute-long advertisement that includes the song “Havana” by Camila Cabello and a creepy harlequin-type doll.
- The advertisement shows a group of teenagers waking up in the morning. One girl asks if they can watch a playlist.
- Cabello’s song starts to play. And, as these things unfold, the harlequin doll wakes up from the song.
- The doll then starts stalking the teens and presumably kills all of them.
- “In 60 seconds, the ad manages to showcase a medley of horror film tropes: a maniacal children's toy, a long and dark hallway, a young woman screaming in terror, and a startling over-the-shoulder apparition in a steamy mirror,” according to NPR.
- The ad ends with the tagline, "Killer songs you can't resist."
You can watch it below:
Response: The Advertising Standards Authority slammed the advertisement in a statement released Wednesday.
- Even though it’s a spoof of the horror film genre, the ASA said the ad would be “likely to cause undue distress to children."
- 73 percent of the audience for a gaming channel where the ad aired were between 18 and 44 years old, according to BBC News.
- "In particular, the ad contained scenes that had tense sound effects and imagery similar to a horror film including the implied threat of violence. The fact the ad was set inside the home, including a bedtime setting, and featured a doll, meant it was particularly likely to cause distress to children who saw it," the ASA said.
- "We told Spotify to ensure that future ads did not cause distress to children without justifiable reason, and to ensure ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children were appropriately targeted," the ASA concluded.
Spotify sent a statement to multiple news outlets about the ASA's report.
- "We acknowledge the ruling from the ASA and regret any distress the ad may have caused the complainant. It was created as a tongue-in-cheek horror parody — intended to be a humorous ad that demonstrated just how catchy some tracks can be. We take our responsibilities as a marketer very seriously and continue to be mindful of the ASA's guidance on the effective and appropriate targeting of advertising campaigns."