Would you ban Mortal Kombat's ad?

A dark stone figure overlooks this year’s location for a behind the scenes glimpse into the Advertising Standards Authority.

The towering guardian on horseback is fitting because the ASA had to reject a poster for the fantasy video game Mortal Kombat, and now the watchdog is asking whether you would have taken the same decision.

According to ASA online, the promotion featured a white businessman holding on for support in a moving train carriage, unaware that two hooded youths have approached to wipe blood on his pristine cream jacket.

“It’s in us all,” read the tagline in Midway’s 2003 promotion, suggesting that ‘all of us’ are harbouring violent acts.

‘Irresponsible,’ ‘offensive’ and ‘distressing to children’ were just some of the responses ASA received from the concerned public, prompting the Authority now to ask, “Do you think you would agree?”

The question marks this year’s opening of the Authority to members of the public, consumers and anyone else interested in the inner workings of Britain’s advertising watchdog.

As well as providing a glimpse into the regulatory system devoted to the public, the open day offers an insight into how the ASA arrives at its decisions.

Moreover, the decision-makers themselves confess the event, to be held at Leeds Park Plaza, allows them the chance to get feedback on its work and hear comments on what the viewing public think about its judgments of past promotions.

Attendees also hear about the rules and guidelines governing marketing and advertising broadcasts, aided by real-world examples of banned and approved TV commercials.

Lord Borrie, chairman of the Authority, will kick off the event on November 23 by revealing how complaints from newspapers, magazines, television and the internet are tackled and taken forward.

His address will further cover the complaints process from start to finish, including the revelation that just one complaint can lead to the scrapping of an ad.

Whether commercials seek to glamourise gun crime, encourage unhealthy eating or contribute to social problems like binge drinking, will form just some of the issues hotly debated by designated teams and seminars comprising the visiting public.

Complimentary lunch comes as standard for all visitors, but only after groups have told the ASA their conclusions on the watchdog’s performance and judgement.

Its website states: “This feedback is important to the ASA, because it gives it a valuable insight into current public attitudes towards advertising.”

All attendees will have the chance to share their thoughts and feelings with the chairman and the director general of the Authority, as well as having the opportunity to step into the shoes of an advertising regulator, even if it is only for one working day.

 

17th November 2005

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