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ASA Permits Controversial UK PSP Ads

ASA Permits Controversial UK PSP Ads

June 21, 2006 | By Jason Dobson

June 21, 2006 | By Jason Dobson
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The UK-Government backed Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has opted not to uphold the 45 complaints filed against Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for its PSP advertising campaign, which included a series of posters that were primarily placed in outdoor locations, as well as on billboards and buses.

The posters, which were part of a campaign created by TBWA London for Sony to promote the unique features of the PSP handheld, each contained one of four different phrases: "Strong language and scenes of a sexual nature here", "Your girlfriend's white bits here", "Take a running jump here", and "Saucy emails won't get you fired here".

According to an official ruling posted on the ASA website, the complaints felt that the posters referenced sexual conduct and bad language, and were "offensive, irresponsible and unsuitable to be seen by children." Other complaints allegedly thought that the posters "were likely to encourage or condone violent or anti-social behaviour, particularly among young people." Still others indicated that the ads "could encourage owners of the product to take and store indecent photos of other children."

However, the advertising agency replied to these claims, indicating that the campaign was simply aimed at emphasizing the different capabilities of the PSP, such as its ability to play games, view photos, watch movies, browse the internet, and listen to music. The firm also indicted that each function that was intended to be highlighted by the specific poster was indicated by an icon at the bottom of each ad.

TBWA London also argued that the posters were made in such a way as to be intended to be humorous, and that most consumers would see them as "irreverent, not offensive."

While the ASA did admit that some of the advertisements could be seen as inappropriate for some, the organization nonetheless dismissed the complaints and indicated that the poster campaign was "unlikely to encourage or condone violent or anti-social behaviour." In addition, ASA noted regarding the "Take a running jump here" advertisement, which was seen as particularly inappropriate due to its placement in certain locations (such as the Forth Road Bridge and Manchester Tram Link), TBWA was quick to remove the ads as soon as the firm became aware of the possible misinterpretations.

The full text of the ASA's ruling can be found on the organization's website.


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