Blackpool Pleasure Beach told off by watchdog for roadside advert that was 'too scary for children'

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has been rapped by the UK adverts watchdog for having a digital advert deemed “too scary for children”.

By Tim Gavell
Friday, 24th December 2021, 8:34 am

The Advertising Standards Agency said that the displays, for the Pleasure Beach’s suite of spooky attractions featuring live actors and rides at Halloween, were “likely to distress young children”.

The adverts which portrayed a white face covered in cracks, with blood-stained teeth, along with the words “Journey to Hell Freak Nights” could be seen by motorists near the Trafford Centre in Manchester.

The ASA received 29 complaints from offended families and individuals which made the case that it was inappropriate for children to see.

The Pleasure Beach's Journey to Hell event featured live actors dressed in horror costumes and rides

Some complainers said it was unsuitable for outdoor display because they believed that the image would be disturbing for adults.

However the ASA threw this complaint out.

The ASA said: “The face in the ad had a very pale appearance, with cracked skin and yellow eyes, and that its mouth was open, apparently shouting or screaming.

“There was blood around its mouth and its teeth were jagged, suggesting the character had recently bitten something, and overall it had a threatening expression.

Part of the image deemed too scary for children by the ASA

“We considered that the image was likely to distress young children, particularly, but not only in combination with the text ‘Journey to Hell Freak Nights’.

“For those reasons, we considered that the poster was unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium where it was likely to be seen by young children.”

The Pleasure Beach said in its defence: “The ad was not targeted at children and due to the location, any children seeing it would have been accompanied by an adult and any viewing of the ad would have been brief.”

They also told the ASA that the ad was shown at Halloween, recognised within the UK as an annual event and participated in by a wide demographic range, at a time when similar images and themes were displayed in public and was no more likely to cause fear and distress than any other examples.

They added that there had been no intent to cause fear or distress and neither the image nor the wording of the ad offended the general public’s sensitivities.

The ASA said Blackpool Pleasure Beach had agreed not to show the ad again in that form.

A spokesman for the Pleasure Beach said: “Blackpool Pleasure Beach acknowledges the ASA’s ruling on our Journey to Hell outdoor advertising at the Trafford Centre and will follow their recommendations in the future.”

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