An online video ad for computer game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks has been slammed by the Advertising Standards Authority as condoning and glorifying violence. It is the first time that a complaint over a viral ad campaign has been upheld by the watchdog.
The ad, entitled Blood on the Carpet, was created for games developer Midway Games by London-based Maverick Media. It features a boardroom scene in which a Mr Linn, the mysterious trouble-shooter at a sales meeting, instructs two men to fight.
Punches lead to a pen being stabbed into an arm; then a water jug is smashed over an executive's head – before his heart is ripped from his chest. Mr Linn concludes proceedings by decapitating another executive with his hat.
The ASA received one complaint over the ad, alleging that it was offensive, violent and unsuitable to be viewed by children.
The ad was shown on viral tracking website viralchart.com and on ttr2.co.uk, which publishes and links content targeted at 18 to 40-year-old men. Neither firm had received any complaints over the ad. Representatives of the ttr2.co.uk site told the ASA that they had considered the ad to be humorous, and had marked the clip as SNSFW – Slightly Not Safe For Work. According to Maverick Media, while apologising for any offence caused, the video clip was suitable for the sites on which it was placed.
But the ASA ruled that, “although the ad was intended to be humorous, because it both condoned and glorified violence and contained some scenes which could be emulated, it was irresponsible.”
“The ad was likely to cause fear or distress and serious or widespread offence and Midway Games had used shocking images to attract attention to their product,” it added.
The watchdog told the firm not to repeat the approach and to take advice when making ads in the future.
See: The ASA ruling
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