A poster for the cinema release of the film Pet Sematary (2019) seen on the side of a bus, in April 2019, featured an image of children with animal masks and carrying various objects, including a spade, a crucifix and a wheelbarrow, walking
through the woods with crucifixes in the background. Text beneath stated SOMETIMES DEAD IS BETTER.
Issue 1. Three complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because they believed it might encourage suicide; and
2. one complainant challenged whether the ad would cause unjustifiable distress to people who were grieving the loss of loved ones.
ASA Assessment 1 & 2 Not upheld
The ASA considered that it was clear from the placement, prominence and context of the text Sometimes dead is better that it was a strapline for a horror movie. While we acknowledged that particular care must be taken to prepare ads with a sense
of responsibility and ensure that they in no way encouraged or condoned suicide, the ad did not directly reference suicide, nor did it go into any further or specific detail about death or dying.
We noted that the ad included an image of crucifixes, a misty woodland and children in animal masks. We considered that although the ad featured children and referenced death, it did not go so far as to encourage suicide, amongst young people in
particular or otherwise. We considered that while the text Sometimes dead is better might be distasteful, it was in keeping with the content of the film and that it was not unusual for death to be referenced in relation to a horror film.
We considered that although the references to death might be upsetting to those who were recently bereaved, we did not consider it excessive in the context of an ad for a horror film. For those reasons, while we acknowledged that the ad may be
seen as distasteful, we considered that it did not encourage suicide nor did it cause unjustifiable or excessive distress. We therefore concluded that the ad was not irresponsible and did not breach the Code.
Ofcom has directed Trace UK World Ltd to broadcast a statement of findings in relation to antisemitic content broadcast by CSC Media Group (CSC), a subsidiary of Colombia Pictures.
The service Starz -- a UK satellite television channel which broadcasts music videos alongside texts and photographs submitted by viewers -- broadcast a viewer-submitted antisemitic caricature.
In this case, an image submitted by a viewer was shown, which depicted a cartoon caricature of a man wearing what appeared to be a prayer shawl (or tallit) which was decorated with a blue Star of David and blue and white stripes. The man was
caricatured as having a large hooked nose and drooping eyelids. Set against a backdrop of gold coins, he was smiling widely and had his hands flat against his cheeks framing his open mouth.
Viewers pay for the broadcast of submissions and Ofcom therefore treats them as advertisements. Under the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code), advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.
Advertisements must also not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. Nor must they condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment. Advertisements must not prejudice
respect for human dignity.
After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that the serious nature of the breaches warranted the imposition of a statutory sanction. As a sanction, Ofcom directed that a statement of Ofcom's findings should be broadcast on a date and in a form to be
determined by Ofcom.