Kaspersky online security ad banned for 'normalising' sexting

A TV ad for internet security brand Kaspersky has been banned by the ads watchdog after prompting dozens of complaints that the spot was "normalising" the practice of texting sexual images.

The 30-second spot, created by Berlin-based WPP shop KKLD*, features three scenes intended to illustrate the features of the product.

The first of these features a young woman, unbuttoning her shirt and taking a photo of herself in the mirror, who says: "I want to show myself… but only to my boyfriend".

The complaints suggested the ad was irresponsible and could cause harm to people under 18 because it normalised the practice of sending explicit images, and implied that Kaspersky’s product could protect them from third parties seeing explicit photos of them.

In a response, Clearcast said that it had decided the sending and receiving of personal photos was acceptable in theory, as long as the characters were clearly consenting adults. It added the spot was only approved for broadcast after the 9pm watershed, did not contain explicit visuals, and was relevant to the product being advertised.

The brand, meanwhile, seemed to accept that it had made a mistake; it did not offer a substantive response to the ASA, but did say the ad was no longer being used and it would endeavour not to upset viewers in the future.

In its ruling, the ASA said that younger children were unlikely to see the ad, while older children were not likely to draw the conclusion that Kaspersky’s product would protect them against other people seeing their personal photos.

But it said the fact that the other two scenarios in the ad were everyday occurrences meant that the inclusion of the first scene had the effect of normalising the behaviour. It consulted with the NSPCC, which said that seeing adults engaging in sexting could reinforce the perception was widespread, and increase the pressure on young people to do it.

The watchdog ruled the ad breached BCAP rules on social responsibility and harm and offence, and said it must not appear again in its current form.

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