Evil Dead reprimanded over ad scheduling

StudioCanal has been rapped for airing ads promoting the 'Evil Dead' remake that could cause distress to young children, at "inappropriate" times, after the advertising watchdog received 25 complaints.

The complainants argued the two edited-down ads, created by The Editpool, should not have been shown while children could have been watching, instead of just being restriction to non-children’s programming.

Both ads featured short clips from the film interspersed with text and a voiceover saying, "evil is coming".

The clips shown in the two five-second spots, which were identical bar the last clip, included shots of the silhouette of a man standing in a doorway, a possessed girl in a bloodied dress and a cabin in flames.

The Advertising Standards Authority received 25 complaints about the TV ads, which argued they were "inappropriately scheduled".

Clearcast, the body responsible for pre-transmission clearance of TV ads, said it felt the ads had been edited until they satisfied the scheduling restrictions, to a point where both were almost all announcement copy.

It accepted there was a "degree of tension" present in the ads, but felt it was necessary to ensure viewers were not "misled" about the film’s nature.

However, the ASA said the image of the bloodied dress and the burning cabin could "cause distress to children" and that the swift cuts, eerie music and voiceover created a "sinister" and "tension-filled atmosphere".

It added that despite not being shown around children’s programming, the ad would be "inappropriate" to be aired when young children might be watching and gave it a post-7.30pm restriction.

The ASA did not uphold a further three complaints against two separate 'Evil Dead' ads.

The other two ads that received complaints also showed clips from the StudioCanal-distributed horror film. One included clips of a woman screaming inside a cabin and a man holding a chainsaw. The other included shots of a knife passing in front of a woman’s face covered in blood and a man using a chainsaw.

Both ads had been given a post-7.30pm scheduling restriction, but two of the complainants said this was not appropriate.

In response, Clearcast said the tighter scheduling restrictions reflected the increased tension in the ads, but added they omitted some of the gore in earlier 'Evil Dead' ads, which had received tougher post 9pm and 11pm restrictions.

The ASA agreed that the tighter scheduling reflected the increased level of threat, concluding that it had been "appropriately scheduled".

A final complainant claimed the latter ad featuring a knife passing a woman’s face was offensive.

However, the ASA said that although some may find it "distasteful", it would be unlikely to cause "serious or widespread offence to adults".