Kane & Lynch Ads Banned… Five Months After Release

Better late than never?

That could be the operative phrase at the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which, according to the Guardian, has just sanctioned an ad campaign for Eidos’ Kane & Lynch.

The game, which garnered unimpressive reviews, launched on November 13th of last year – which makes the ASA’s order that no K&L ads be reprinted or rebroadcast a bit pointless.

The ASA said that it had received 26 complaints and that the poster at left was “graphic and too shocking to be seen in an untargeted medium“. From the Guardian:

The ad was used a double-page spread in Future Publishing’s computer game magazine Edge, while a second version appeared in the magazine Total Film…

Ruling on the Kane & Lynch poster… the ASA said it was “likely to be seen as condoning and glorifying real violence”, and was also irresponsible and “likely to cause serious or widespread offence”.

From the ASA’s report, as cited by the Guardian:

We noted that the demographic profile of the magazines that carried the ads was predominantly adult males and that only a small number of children were likely to have seen the ads.

We considered, however, that the graphic and shocking image, which would be seen as condoning and glorifying real violence, was likely to cause distress to some readers and was unsuitable for children to see. We therefore concluded that the placement of the ads was irresponsible.

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  1. 0
    Marlowe says:

    How the hell do they call the magazines an “untargeted medium” and then go on to say “the demographic profile of the magazines that carried the ads was predominantly adult males,” they just said two things that were complete opposite of one another. Maybe I just know nothing about marketing and am misunderstanding the definition of “untargeted medium” but based on the word “untargeted” and the context it was used i would assume they’re talking about a giant bill-board, or the side of a bus, you know something that just about everyone who falls under the demographic of “walking or driving down a street” would see not something that mainly people in the demographic of “adult males” would see. Anyone want to clear this up for me or am I correct in my assumption?

  2. 0
    Ebonheart ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ koichan

    True, but man that game just sucked. Also side note GTA IV soon *dances the saftey dance* Yep I’m doing the safety dance, I’m acting like world governments doing that WAY to late.

  3. 0
    S F Booker says:

    Just had a quick look at the ASA website and it looks like all they need is one complaint and they can tell people to pull ads.

    During a quick search I found a couple for Play.com that got upheld (i.e. pulled) all because someone misunderstood one of their adverts and wasn’t getting a DVD as cheap as he thought they would.

    Just as long as they don;t get involved in video game classification otherwise nothing would ever get released here.

  4. 0
    Andy_UK says:

    Cheers Bob.

    Lets just Censor everything. Ban everything wrap people in cotton wool and then everyone will be disensitized.

    Like what the governments doing.


  5. 0
    Andy_UK says:

    yes brits are too sensitive….

    its the ultimate Nanny state.

    you can’t walk down the street without someone telling you what to do because its just “better” or “healthier”.

    Fucking hate this place.

  6. 0
    neoelasticman ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ lorenzo

    hmmm Ok so a quick google found circulation averages of around 31k for Edge and 85k Total Film per month…so 120000 adverts in circulation generated 26 complaints. 0.021% or to put it another way 99.979 people had no issue whatsoever.
    end quote

    You forget, every complaint written is representative of 99 other people that didn’t write. So, each complaint = 100 people. Thus, 2600 complaints. That almost half of the users. The thought that so many people were offended just scare the chickens out of me. What has the world come to where people can get scared by a poster?

  7. 0
    Woodey says:

    I hate to say it, but you have to look at this the same way you do cigaretts or alcohol. The government isn’t/can’t really control who sees the content of most ads. The only way to ensure that children do not pick up a gaming magazine from the grocery store is to put it in the “adult” section like you would find the pornographic magazines.

    It’s sad, it really is, but you have understand that these large companies place these ads in sections that will get to a younger audience while trying to attempt to look like they aren’t. They do it on purpose. My kids will grow up playing video games because they love them, and I love them, but I don’t think that subjecting 12 year old to the same type of violence and advertising as and 18 year old is good practice.

    They didn’t ban anyone from selling/playing the game, they simply restricted something that they saw to be a potential hazard to a younger audience. I”m not saying it’s an awesome move, an all inclusive move, or even a move that will actually accomplish something but what they did was legal, and completely within their jurisdiction to do so.

    They didn’t base their decision entirely on the magazine add alone and that is the key to remember. There were giant posters hanging in outside windows of game stores in public (at the mall) where thousands of children walk by a day. I’m sure that the magazine add was the smallest on their list of reasons to ban all advertisements.

    It completely saddens me that we have to rely on an outside body to enforce these types of “ethics”, if you will, because business no longer hold the courage or self decency to say “I’m not going to sell it” just because it makes them money. Just like with nearly everything else in the world, principle is lost.

  8. 0
    the conspiracy says:

    How often does this agency ban things? If they are this easuly offended, then I imagine that they would censor a pretty large amount of ads. Could someone that lives in the UK please enlighten me?

  9. 0
    StealthKnight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Well I may think the is rather tasteless and represents the game in a bad light. The reasoning to have the ads removed is flimsy at best and would not hold water a debate tournament. Unless 26 complaints are the majority and/ or there argument is reasonable; the whole thing is stupid.

  10. 0
    Kira says:

    Honestly, I partially support this. Since the ad was in a magazine whose target audience is an older demographic, I am more accepting of it. If the readers have a problem, it is their responsibility to take that to the magazine, not some outside governing body and that body has no reason to intervene. The ad being run in proper places, magazines gear for older groups for instance, is fine, as long as some governing body is keeping magazines freely sold to all ages from containing literal pornographic or overtly violent images.

    I do take issue with the original ad for Kane and Lynch in which the woman had the duct tape on her mouth and was crying when that ad was on display inside video game stores. Being placed outside of the covers of a magazine and in a spot meant to draw attention from people of all ages is something that concerns me, and while I still don’t support involvement from an outside body, I do expect the people who placed the advertising in that spot or chose to display that image so openly to act more responsibly.

  11. 0
    Stu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is not an attack on video games. The ASA is really strict on ads on this country. They ban alot of ads for weird reasons rember doing a report in 6th form on them once and they banned an orange ad for featureing a horse in a way where it would chose a product.

  12. 0
    koichan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    It’s not that bad (yet) just the very small minority having a fit about a self perceived threat as always

    on the plus side, if they want to waste energy banning adverts long out of date and beyond relevance, let them… I’m glad they’re wasting their time on such pointless things instead of anything current :)

  13. 0
    Ebonheart ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    No offense to the British, but WTF, is going on over there that FMV’s get banned from commercials and an add being banned 5 months late?

    What’s next Solent Green getting banned?

  14. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    What’s graphic about a man brandishing a shotgun while his accomplice holds a captive woman in place? Ads shown in unrestricted media have to tread lightly. You’ll see firefights in movie trailers at 7pm on TV (pre-watershed) but I’ve yet to see anyone actually get shot in one.

    The news is different as they show what they do under the guise of informing. And they’ll warn you if what they’re going to show could be disturbing.

    Interestingly, the ad as shown in the Graun has tape over her mouth but the little pic in the GP article does not. Could GP be using a censored version of the advert from an American source? (If so, very odd thing to censor.)

    Just to wave a little white flag though: God, people will complain about anything. Give it a rest, Middle England. Polish immigrants will put up posters on buildings in predominantly Asian estates advertising things you don’t like for teenagers you don’t understand and if you insist on wishing that the country could go back to the rose-tinted version of the 1940’s you remember then we’ll just have to disconnect your TV, ban you from Tesco’s and randomly shout warnings in the middle of the night that your houses are going to be bombed.

  15. 0
    Rhade says:


    The idea with a lot of this seemingly misguided censorship, is actually a very sophisticated system of incrementalist control.

    The material being censored is only important because it CAN be censored, it’s only a means to the desired end.

    Ordo Ab Chao… if you will.

    /shrug.. or maybe I’m wearing a tinfoil hat, you decide.

  16. 0
    Gift ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Oh and forgot to say what’s graphic in the K&L advert any way? Some people really need to get a sense of perspective, I see worse on the news and you can bet children do too.


  17. 0
    Gift ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Steve Trained the dog eh? What kind of madness is this!?

    Still, an amusingly obvious reaction from fellow Brits. Animals that appear to be scared causing an outcry? This is why the society for the protection of animals has a royal charter, but the society for the protection of children doesn’t. Won’t someone think of the doggies!


  18. 0
    Steve ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This kind of stuff is getting a little weak, but that’s people for you. Just today I read in the news that people have complained to the ad people about the shivering dog in the car advert. Ridiculous, really. Anyone with half a mind would know that the dog was probably trained.

    Freaking armchair offendees!

  19. 0
    lorenzo says:

    hmmm Ok so a quick google found circulation averages of around 31k for Edge and 85k Total Film per month…so 120000 adverts in circulation generated 26 complaints. 0.021% or to put it another way 99.979 people had no issue whatsoever.

    Quite obviously this sick filth must be banned. It’s an incitement to lawlessness.

    Right, rant over, I’m off to sip fine malt whisky and indulge my sociopathic tendencies :)

  20. 0
    Ken ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    That’s nothing. In a Toronto Sun I saw last week, 6 idiots were bitching and moaning about Comedy Network’s ads on the TTC for South Park Uncensored with one of the chars about to get anal probed. Those are probably the only 6 people old enough who have never seen an ep of South Park.

  21. 0
    JBourrie says:

    “…likely to cause serious or widespread offence…”

    That’s funny, you’d think that after FIVE MONTHS we’d see some evidence of this “widespread offence”. Twenty-six easily offended twats can hardly be described as “widespread”.

  22. 0
    Canary Wundaboy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “I remember being a kid, while my age was in the single digits. I was scouring for Playboys, playing Mortal Kombat at a friend’s house, and learning how to use the Internet to find fake nude pictures of Roseanne Bar and Dolly Parton. It was an age of limitless discovery.”

    Dude, Im down with that…but….Dolly Parton?

  23. 0
    Kris O. says:

    I remember being a kid, while my age was in the single digits. I was scouring for Playboys, playing Mortal Kombat at a friend’s house, and learning how to use the Internet to find fake nude pictures of Roseanne Bar and Dolly Parton. It was an age of limitless discovery.

    Because of kids, my entertainment options are fading away. It’s not the politicians that are causing problems. I’m pretty sure that it’s all the children that are ruining the world. So let’s end hunger and pro-creation, both in one fell swoop, and start eating kids. They can be safe in our stomaches. We can be like kangeroos, but without all the kicking and bouncing.

  24. 0
    Matthew ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Hitman’s “brilliantly executed” magazine ad. Burnout’s “ka-ra-shin” billboard. The Saw and – what was that other one with the person buried in sand? that one – adverts.

    This happens all the time in the UK and it will keep happening. There’s one simple rule to follow: Do not put violent adverts/imagery on physical media because you simply can’t have a watershed on billboards and magazines.

    (Hey, there’s an idea. You know those rotating devices they use to share ad space? Why not let them spin to advertise violent stuff once the lights go off?)

  25. 0
    Monte ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    oh damn, 26 complaints…
    I mean, you know that 1 complaint is like the equivalent of 1 billion people being upset… so that means that 26 billion people were outraged over that ad! my god, they HAD to take those ads down, they should go back to 5 months ago and remove them

  26. 0
    SithLibrarian says:


    They should get rid of those period. I’m sick and tired of seeing the same GGW commercial during every single got-dang commercial break.

  27. 0
    Delin says:

    Ok, so they should pull the Girls Gone Wild ads that they show after 11pm EST on Comedy Central because children might be up watching TV. Or they should have Budwiser and Miller pull their ads because Alcohol is bad and kids see them.


  28. 0
    SithLibrarian says:

    Boy, I sure can’t wait for my governing body to dictate what I can see, what I can hear, what I can do, when I can sleep, what I can eat and what I can think.

    Free will is a pain in the ass and something I cannot cope with.

  29. 0
    DavCube ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Corey

    You obviously never heard of the CCFC… what you just described is basically their ideal world. Except take that and ad… basically all ads period.

  30. 0
    Corey says:

    So they decided to remove it because children MIGHT see it. If we remove every advertisement that a child may gaze upon then go ahead and remove ads for anything not kid related. I find it hard to believe that anyone would be traumatized by a damn poster.

  31. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I suppose they could have banned it for being an ad that way oversold a crap product, but if they got into that habit, General Elections would be a nightmare 😉

  32. 0
    Ragnaar ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “… And it took us this long to do anything about it because no one knew this game actually existed.”

    And a whopping 26 complaints… From Adam Adamson to Zeke Zepper. Forget too little too late, how about too much too late?

  33. 0
    Bob says:

    I agree totally with Andy.
    The country is bloody hopeless, always dealing from the lowest (stupidest / smallmindedededest ) denominator.
    They should have a standard that any issue that receives less than 300 or so complaints is automatically ignored.
    I’m so sick of ads, programs, ideas and improvements being shot down by 3 old people and a jack russell with nothing better to do before bingo than complain about something totally irrelevant to them.

    In fact, in a democracy they should work on the idea of accepting the silent majority. Therefore they work out how many people are estimated to have seen the Advert and only pull it if more than half of those complain.

    @ neoelasticman
    So, each complaint = 100 people. Thus, 2600 complaints. That almost half of the users.

    ALMOST half, so not the majority and therefore fails under new BOB’s regulations.
    job done.

  34. 0
    Karsten ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just to give you another example of this, in Denmark, Europe, the authorities actually made Carlsberg, the Danish based beer company, take down some ads for beers on a web-site whose target audience clearlys was (and is) the 18-25+ agre group. And why did they do do this, you ask!?! Because children might see these adds, and think that drinking is sort of cool. At that time I just thought to myself, ‘wtf’ is going on and wrote a very angry letter or comment at a webiste, saying that I will not stand for ths sort of censorship, since it restricts my choices as an adult. Simply because children might see an add or two for a beer or two.

    I don’t understand why the authorities in the UK, or in Denmark etc. are going after Kane&Lynch adds and beer adss that clearly is marketed towards adults using the arguments that a child might see them or that some people might take offense at them. While I agree somewhat that children needs to be protected from seeing violent content, I also think that it really is the job of the parents to monitor this, not the state’s.

    If we, as a society restricts children from seeing what we deem as harmful content, be it sexual or violent, or just content we interprete as such i.e.g the mentioned Kane & Lynch ad, then might I suggest, that we ban cartoons as well, the Legend of Zelda games, Spyro games along with Sonic – The Hedgehog games. I mean some people could actually offensive the cartoony violence in these games as well as the content might be damaging to children. If it isn’t the ‘won’t anyone think of the children’ argument that get’s you it is the ‘someone might actually find this ad, game, video, or lyric’ offensive. Yes, they might, but chances are they won’t. And that is why we have a guaranteed freedom of expression: To make sure that we are able to say, show & tell content that other people might be offended by. If we were to take into account everything we se making sure that anyone got offended when we said it, then we couldn’t say anything at all, and if we did, what we said, would certainly not have been as interesting and exciting as it could have been.

    And yes, in Europe we have tv ads for progams (or shows) like ’24’ or the next big US war film, showing way more violence than the ads for Kane&Lynch are showing. In fact, next tuesday (the 15th of April 2008) starts a new detecttive show which is definitely not for children. It will begin at 5.30 PM and last for an hour each day. And in the tv ad for it today, there were shooting and content clearly not suitable for children -mich much worse than the ads for Kane&Lynch.

    I agree, though, that 5-6 months after a game’s release is very late….

  35. 0
    Vinzent says:

    A) Banning the ad that appeared in a magazine that target young adults is a bit extreme and ought to be challenged.

    B) Whatsamatta? Don’t they have TV commercials for 24 over there? Those commercials are way more violentl and suggestive than that picture.

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