N-Gage ads deemed "offensive" and "distressing"

Nokia's N-Gage ads, created by Grey Advertising have been banned by Britain's ad watchdog, the ASA, because they could be seen to encourage sexual violence towards women.

From the Reuter's article:


The ad from the Finnish firm, the world's biggest mobile phone maker, shows a photograph of a large, isolated caravan with the words "This is where I left Kate, Lucy and Michelle begging for more." The poster, part of a series of seven adverts for the N-Gage mobile console, prompted 12 complaints to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). "The Authority concluded that the advertisement could be seen to condone or encourage sexual violence towards women and asked the advertisers not to repeat it," the ASA said in a statement. Squires said it was largely a matter of interpretation. "The ads were aimed at 18-35 year-olds and couched in games language that those groups were used to," he added. Nokia also said its adverts reflected the fact that, for the first time, the device gave users the chance to play games with other people in any location, the ASA statement reported.

Spong.com reports that "the move follows 12 complaints regarding the firm’s fly-poster, press and cinema adverts from members of the public, with the common issue seeming to be that the materials used are too violent and were both "offensive and depressing."" The site also has images of the print ads causing complaints.

The complaints were about 7 ads.


The first was a poster with an image of an alleyway at night. Text: "This is where I took on three guys...and made them cry like babies." Complaint(s): Offensive and distressing in its depiction of violence and crime, especially to those who saw it in areas where they faced an increased possibility of assault and irresponsible and could condone and encourage violence, including sexual violence. ASA upheld the complaint.

The second was a poster and also ran in the Guardian Guide with an image of a locker room. Text: "This is where I made Kev look small." Complaint(s): Offensive and could encourage anti-social behaviour. The complainants believed it invited those who saw it to identify with bullies and was distressing for families with children who had experienced bullying. ASA upheld the complaint.


The third ran as posters and in national press with an image of a doorway in a rundown building.
Text: "This is where I cut them down to size."

Complaint: Offensive and distressing in its portrayal of violence. ASA upheld the complaint. The fourth ran as posters and in national press with the image of a caravan by the woods. Text: "This is where I left Kate, Lucy and Michelle begging for more". Complaint(s): Offensive and distressing and condoned/could encourage sexual violence towards women. One complainant objected that the advertisement was unsuitable to be seen by boys and young men of an impressionable age. ASA upheld the complaint.

The fifth ran as a poster and in the Metro newspaper with the image of a road and a bus stop at night. Text: "This is where I got further with Lara than anyone else." Complaint: Distressing and encouraged sexual intimidation and violence. ASA did not uphold the complaint. The sixth ran as a PG cinema commercial. Superadgrunts view it here.

Text: "This is where they ran me down. This is where I left Kate, Lucy and Michelle begging for more. This is where I cried for help." Complaint: Offensive because it implied scenes of real life crime where the victim was not consenting. (HUH? Are there victims of crime where the victim *is* consenting?) ASA did not uphold the complaint.

The seventh ran in the Evening Standard newspaper with the image of a tent in the woods.

Text: "This is where I hunted them down."

Complaint: Offensive because it blurred the distinction between violence in computer games and violence in reality: the complainer believed the photograph depicted a crime scene.

ASA did not uphold the complaint. On all upheld complaints, the ASA asked Nokia not to run the adverts again.

Superadgrunts, watch the ads.

This is where...1

This is where...2

This is where...Rebecca"

This is where...Lara

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Dabitch's picture

That so sad. It was one of the better campaigns last year, with the classic 'twist'.

quite worrysome if you think about it, that an ad suggesting a fight in the alleyway at night gets pulled, yet the dark alleyways don't get any safer from that.

CopyWhore's picture

Hardly "Shockvertising", and yet still banned! And I thought America was the last domain of the politically-correct facists!

AnonymousCoward's picture

It is a shame, definitely. I didn't particularly like these adverts in practice, because I felt they were too long and slow, and also they were on in just about every single ad break which always annoys me. But in theory, it was a good idea, and doesn't really deserve this. God knows the N-Gage needs as much help as it can get.

It doesn't really surprise me, though, that they've been banned. When the Xbox 'Champagne' ad by Bartle Bogle Hegarty was banned, it got a bit more press than I'm sure this will, mainly because it was such a good advert, and went on to win a Gold Lion award if I'm not mistaken. I think the video game console advertisers have a pretty hard time getting it right. Their target audience is pretty much the 'young adult' range, who I'd imagine are fairly hard to cater for. You have to be unique and original and stylish and clever and attention-grabbing, without being too risky and getting yourself banned. Ever since the Playstation, the average gamer has been increasingly upwardly mobile, and I think that makes life difficult for the advertisers. Or at least makes it not at all surpising when their attempts at being catchy end up causing knee jerk reactions from the people they weren't aiming for in the slightest.

yaksox's picture

Well, now that you folks have set the tone in the comments, I agree. Incidentally, the word 'n-gage' meant nothing to me when reading the article, but it eventually came back to me that that set of tv ads got a go here. They didn't strike me as violent or suggestive. Funnily enough, ads that actually depict violence appear to me as more violent than those that have some kind of vague suggestion of it.

Dabitch's picture

Scotsman repots n-gage ads BANNED!

The adverts for the Nokia 300 N-Gage computer games consoles were part of a launch campaign shot at various locations, including the exact spot in Glasgow where Turkish Kurd immigrant Firsat Dag was stabbed and beaten to death.

Under a picture of a footpath in the Sighthill area of the city where 25-year-old Dag was left to bleed to death, the advert said: "This is where I got a good beating."

Big mistake, big huge mistake. [via Bold.se]

caffeinegoddess's picture


James Trickery's picture

I hope the idiot that scouted that location has another job these days.

deeped's picture

Icemaker for VW? ;)

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