Paramount rapped for airing horror ad in Angry Birds and Draw Something apps

Paramount has been reprimanded by the ad watchdog after a trailer for horror movie 'Paranormal Activity 4' aired in the Angry Birds and Draw Something mobile games.

Scenes showing a person being dragged across a room by an invisible force and a young woman talking to a friend online as a shadowy figure appeared behind her were displayed in the apps, which are both popular among children.

The Advertising Standards Authority received complaints that the ads for the movie, which has a 15 rating, were likely to cause fear or distress to children.

Paramount’s ad was removed from Draw Something by its owner Zynga after they received feedback from their users that the ad may have been inappropriate for younger players and alerted media agency MEC Global.

Rovio Entertainment, the owners Angry Birds, also investigated the airing of the ad during its game after being emailed by gamers about the ad and withdrew it once it had identified the company that had served the ad, Millenial Media. 

Rovio claimed Millenial Media apologised to them for serving the ad, citing human error and said they would implement additional safeguards to stop the incident happening again. 

Paramount Pictures UK defended itself by claiming it had instructed media buying agency MEC to buy advertising space aimed at 15- to 24-year olds.

Once instructed, MEC purchased ad space targeting the age demographic from sales house Odyssey Mobile, which put together a package containing several apps including Angry Birds and Draw Something. 

Paramount claims nether Odyssey Mobile or the owners of the apps raised concerns with them or MEC about the ad being inappropriate for the audience.

The ASA has told Paramount to ensure all agencies instructed to buy ad space for their ads took account of the context of where the ad would appear to avoid distressing children.