Watchdog slams 'misleading' adverts

The makers of the violent video game Grand Theft Auto IV have escaped criticism from the advertising watchdog in the same week that it bit the government.

Although the TV ad by Rockstar Games/Take Two Interactive featured people on the streets waving guns and ended with a man stealing a car, it was not deemed offensive.

Despite eighteen complaints from members of the public, the ASA said the ad’s “fleeting” action scenes would not cause harm to children by condoning violence.

While viewers might object to the “themes of the actual game itself”, the regulator said that the ad, which was shown after 7.30pm, would not cause widespread offence.

Another multimillion pound TV ad campaign, with themes most parents would welcome, was not as abiding of the advertisers’ code, despite just two complaints against it.

Run by the Training and Development Agency for Schools, the ad showed a young teacher chatting to a pupil to the voiceover “You could earn 34 grand a year. The banter’s not bad either.”

The two viewers complained that the use of the young teacher, and the ensuing claim “Turn your talent to teaching” wrongly implied a newly qualified teacher could earn £34k.

The Advertising Standards Authority agreed, ruling that the ad was “misleading” over pay expectations by up to £14,000, and banned the advert from ever being shown again.

However according to the ASA’s rulings of last week, one of the biggest offending ads both in terms of complaints and breaches of code, was for an online weight loss product.

The Pink Patch ads, which claimed people who wear it on their midriff can lose a stone in two weeks, were irresponsible, promoted bad medical practice and were unsupported by the evidence.

Makers of the patch said it worked by releasing natural herbal ingredients which had been shown to increase a person’s metabolic rate, but the ASA disagreed and banned it outright.


31st July 2008

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