A YouTube ad for the film Pet Sematary seen before Fortnite videos on the family gaming channels DanTDM and FGTEEV has been banned for being inappropriately targeted at children.
The ad, seen in February, opened with scenes of a girl walking through some woods and was accompanied by a voiceover saying: “Something up in those woods, it brings things back; sometimes dead is better.”
It then showed a number of scenes from the film, including someone with a serious facial injury, a boy with a protruding spine and shoulder blades crawling across the floor, and violent scenes depicting sharp objects and blood.
Two viewers, whose child saw the ad, complained that it was irresponsibly targeted because it was seen before videos that were likely to be of appeal to children.
Paramount Pictures UK said the first five seconds of the trailer did not show any of the scenes complained about, and the ad introduced “cues as to its tone” so viewers “would have had the opportunity to skip it at any point if they considered the content to be distressing”.
They said that there was always a possibility a child might have viewed content while logged into an adult user’s YouTube account, and they were working with YouTube to see what more could be done to ensure greater safety.
YouTube said that exclusions applied by Paramount Pictures meant the ad would only have been served to users considered to be over 18.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad was likely to cause distress to children, and therefore should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of children seeing it.
The ASA said: “We noted the exclusions placed by Paramount and we considered it reasonable for them to have expected that, by placing them, the ad would not have appeared around content such as the channels in question.
“However, those exclusions had proved insufficient to prevent the ad from being seen around videos on those channels.
“Because the ad appeared before videos of particular appeal to children, we concluded that it had been inappropriately targeted.”
The ASA added: “We told Paramount Pictures International to ensure that future ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children did not appear in media that was of particular appeal to children.”