A creepy online only advertisement for Spotify has been banned in the United Kingdom after causing distress to kids.
The one-minute ad shows a group of young 20-somethings being tormented, and maybe even murdered, by a doll that is triggered by the song “Havana” by Camila Cabello.
At the end, the doll's hand is seen reaching out to play the song with the slogan “killer songs you can’t resist” following.
A complaint was filed to the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) saying the advertisement was upsetting to children and "irresponsibly targeted" as it was paired with YouTube videos meant to appeal to a younger audience.
The ASA ruled that:
“The fact the ad was set inside the home, including a bedtime setting, and featured a doll, meant it was particularly likely to cause distress to children who saw it.
We concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause distress to adults, but that it was likely to cause undue distress to children…
We told Spotify to ensure that future ads did not cause distress to children without justifiable reason, and to ensure ads that were unsuitable for viewing by children were appropriately targeted.”
A spokesperson for Spotify said their intent was never to cause harm to children and thought they made clear the whole thing was a parody.
“We acknowledge the ruling from the ASA and regret any distress the ad may have caused the complainant. It was created as a tongue-in-cheek horror parody—intended to be a humorous ad that demonstrated just how catchy some tracks can be.
We take our responsibilities as a marketer very seriously and continue to be mindful of the ASA's guidance on the effective and appropriate targeting of advertising campaigns."