Konami Accused of Racist Ads

The Advertising Standards Authority of the UK is in action again. Last month, it was reported here on GamerNode that the ASA shot down the television ads shown for the Call of Duty games. The complaints charged that the ads falsely advertised the games by using misleading graphics, which were not in the games themselves. After investigation, the charges proved to be true and the ads were pulled. This week, ads for Konami’s UK released game, Crime Life: Gang Wars, was given the boot by the ASA. The complaints are about ads which appeared in the Metro, London edition. The ads depict five black men standing and holding guns, a baseball bat and a hammer. The caption for the image says, “Rule the streets or fall by the wayside.” According the the ASA, “The complainant objected that the ad was offensive and irresponsible, because it exploited racial stereotypes, glorified violence and encouraged anti-social behaviour.” In Konami of Europe’s defense, they stated that the men in the ad were from the music group, “D12” and that the members were the prime characters in Konami’s title. The ad picture was approved by the band. The ASA reported that the Metro informed them that, “…the ad was suitable for publication because their survey, Urban Life, showed that a high percentage of their readers played video games; they considered their readers would distinguish real life from a video game. They told us they had not received any complaints about the ad.” The ASA’s final decision on the ads was to ask Konami not to republish the advertisements again. According to the final decision made by the association: “The ASA [has] noted Konami's comments. We accepted that D12 had approved the use of their image but concluded that some readers may not understand that the men in the ad represented the band members and could take the image to be a negative portrayal of black men and be offended by it on those grounds. We also considered that the text "RULE THE STREETS OR FALL BY THE WAYSIDE" could be seen to condone violence and present that choice of lifestyle as aspirational in a way that was irresponsible. We told Konami not to repeat the ad and advised them to approach the CAP Copy Advice team for guidance when advertising similar products in future.” This just goes to prove how unimaginably powerful advertising has on the human mind and how we all need to be protected from these nefarious ads. Last week, when the GamerNode staff saw an ad for Dance Dance Revolution, we immediately took out our dance mats and proceeded to do head spins and back flips. But in all seriousness, the issue of censorship is a tricky one. Any form of media is subject to the public’s scrutiny and opinion. That is the nature of the beast. But is there a distinguishable line that can be seen which determines the “bad” from the “good?” Can an ad, which is “innocent” of any harmful intentions, be pulled because of “offensive material”? We’re not sure of the answer either but the next time Konami thinks about putting up an ad for their next shooter; they may want to replace those guns and baseball bats with fuzzy bunnies and smiley faces.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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