A Machine Zone YouTube for smartphone game Mobile Strike must not be shown again, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled.
The ad, which can be seen below, features three women in bikinis playing the game and… well, that is actually more or less it. The ASA received a complaint from an individual who believed the imagery objectified women and was offensive.
In response, Machine Zone argued that as a mobile game, Mobile Strike could be played anywhere and that “the juxtaposition between what people normally did by the pool (i.e. relax and lounge) with the visuals of the players battling it out with jets and tanks was what made the ad so striking”.
There were also other ads showing it being played in a range of scenarios, such as cafes, restaurants and a laundrette.
Machine Zone also argued that they feared the complaint was more to do with the size of the women, who are not as thin as the models you would normally see in such ads.
“They suspected that had the women been typically thin models seen in ads, it was unlikely that a complaint would have been made,” the ASA added. “They had decided to feature ‘real-sized women’ as a nod to their diverse player base.”
The studio also noted that the ad had run for months without attracting any other complaints. YouTube also confirmed that it did not contravene their guidelines.
Nonetheless, the ASA ultimately decided to uphold the complaint.
“The ASA noted that the images of the women wearing swimwear bore no relation to the product being advertised – a combat-themed mobile game app,” it concluded. “We also noted that in some of the scenes, the mannerisms of the women were seductive or sexually-charged.
“For example, in one scene, a woman wearing a thong bikini was seen walking towards a sun lounger and the camera angle was taken from below and behind so that as she walked into the scene, only her legs and her thong bikini bottoms were in view. We noted that another scene featuring one of the women wearing a swimsuit was shot in slow motion, and the emphasis was on her body rather than the mobile game app she was playing.
“One of the camera angles was shot side-on which highlighted her waist and chest. As she approached the camera, she flicked her hair back, stopped and looked seductively into the camera. We noted that the ad featured plus-sized models but we considered that fact was irrelevant. For those reasons, we considered that the ad objectified women and was therefore offensive.”