ASA: UK Heavy Rain Ads Not All Wet

A series of television ads run in the UK for the PlayStation 3 game Heavy Rain rankled a few feathers due to their timing and violence.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) reported receiving 38 complaints in response to four Heavy Rain ads, with viewers criticizing the violence of the ads and a perceived glamorization of violence. The objectors also worried that the ads were run at a time of day when children could view them.

The last complaint about the ads was that they were run around the same time that a shop keeper in Huddersfield was killed in an armed robbery. The Heavy Rain ads all depicted a scene in which a shop keeper was repeatedly threatened by an armed man with Heavy Rain character Scott Shelby watching. The versions differed in how the Shelby reacted to the situation; he either intervened, attacked or negotiated with the armed robber.

Gurmail Singh, of Cowcliffe, Huddersfield, died from head injuries received in a February 20 attack in his store, according to the BBC.

Sony called the overlap of the ads with the death of Singh “unfortunate,” to which the ASA added, “We considered that the ad was likely to be viewed by most people within its context of an ad for a videogame, rather than as a reference to or comment on a current news event, and would therefore expect to see footage that was representative of the games genre.”

The PlayStation maker also argued that “the ads were based on the content and storyline of the game Heavy Rain and were in no way intended to glamorise violence.”

The ASA additionally stated that the ads were run in appropriate time slots and ruled against all complaints.

One of the ads in question is embedded. All four can be viewed in this PlayStation EU blog post.

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