asda halloween ad

ASA received 62 complaints over the commercial

Asda did not breach scheduling guidelines by showing a Halloween ad featuring characters with glowing green eyes dancing in costumes, the advertising watchdog has ruled.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 62 complaints over the commercial, which aired in October 2017 and was described by some as “distressing”. The clip showed a young girl dressed as a witch entering a house that was struck by lightning. She then began dancing in jerky manner, and lip-syncing to a song while staring ahead. 
Other children in Halloween costumes began to dance in the same way, as did four adults before the ad closed with a close-up shot of the girl’s eyes, which had changed to the Asda logo, and a voiceover.

Many of the complainants reported that their young children had been distressed by the ad and challenged whether it had been scheduled appropriately. In its response, Asda confirmed the video had been agreed by Clearcast, the clearance body for TV adverts in the UK, prior to broadcast with no scheduling restriction.

The retailer also stated that it had referred to CAP advice on Halloween advertisements and pointed out that the ad did not feature any gory scenes or scenarios showing blood or people who were visibly distressed; neither did it feature scenes that were likely to make the audience “jump”.

The Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the commercial was unlikely to cause fear or distress to older children, who would understand that it was about a family festival that referenced “spooky” but not genuinely threatening or distressing images, However it added that it could “prove frightening” to younger children.

“While we considered the ad was likely to distress very young children, we had not seen any evidence that it had been broadcast during programming principally directed at, or of strong appeal to, that particular group,” the watchdog stated. “We therefore concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and did not breach the code.”