A poster advertisement for the release of the horror movie “Sinister 2” featured two boys sitting facing a wall. On the wall is the large image of the face of a ‘monster’ that appears to have been painted in blood. The blood is dripping down the wall. Child hand prints, also in blood, are shown on the wall.
Eight complaints were received regarding the advertising. The complainants all considered that the image used was unsuitable for display on bus shelters and posters and was unsuitable for viewing by children. Several complainants had said that their children were upset and frightened after viewing the poster. The Complainants all noted that the advertising was related to a movie that was rated 16s, however, the advertisement was on view for all ages.
The advertisers noted that some of the complainants had described a version of the advertising that had not be used in Ireland, but had been available on various media websites such as MTV UK and they said that the Irish edition of the poster had not included the figures hanging by a noose. The advertiser did not consider that the advertising had shown images of explicit violence nor was there any graphic horror or gore. They said that the advertisement was clearly promoting a fictional film and the ‘horror’ movie was not being inflicted on children. They did not consider that the poster had caused grave or widespread offence nor any physical, mental or moral harm to children. They stated that the children portrayed in the advertisement were sitting on the ground looking at the image and were not shown in a manner that should offend against the standards of good taste and decency.
Finally, they stated that while the film may not appeal to all, they did not consider that there was anything in the posters that was either graphic, explicit or depicted violence or gore and it was clear that the poster was advertising a film.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the clarification from the advertisers in regards to the versions of the poster described by the complainants. The Committee noted the concerns raised by the complainants and considered that the image used in the poster published in Ireland had breached Sections 2.15 and 5.3 of the Code. In addition, the Committee considered that the poster was likely to frighten children and therefore considered that it was also in breach of Section 5.5 of the Code.
The advertisement should not appear in its current format again.