The Advertising Standards Authority has not upheld complaints about a series of Phones 4U television ads that featured a ghost-like child. A number of the advertisements were short two-second ads showing the ghostly girl, while the final ad in the sequence was a 30-second scene that took place in an underground car park. The tagline to the ads was “Missing our deals will haunt you”.
Over 600 people complained about the ads, mainly challenging whether they were offensive, irresponsible, unduly distressing and inappropriately scheduled at a time when children might see them.
Phones 4U pointed out that the ads were a parody of horror movies and had been scheduled to avoid being shown around programmes that might appeal to children. It also said the tension in the ads was relieved by the ghost-like girl making a ‘Phones 4U’ hand signal and talking about mobile phone offers.
In its assessment, the ASA considered the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or to be unduly distressing for most adults. It also noted that the ads were scheduled to appear around programmes that were all broadcast after 9pm and were not directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children.