ASA bans Nokia N-Gage ads

Nokia has been banned from showing seven ads for the N-Gage system by the the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Those who complained said the ads were “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”. The ASA agreed saying the ads were “likely to cause serious or widespread offence or distress to readers”.

The advertisement featured locations where gaming was possible, and that the scenes did not depict victims. They said the text “This is where they ran me down” referred to losing a driving game and “This is where I cried for help” referred to a gamer’s frustration in being unable to reach the next gaming level.

Nokia also stated that their approach was suitable for selling a gaming brand and represented a style of advertising typical of the gaming genre. They explained they wanted to produce compelling and memorable advertising because N-Gage was Nokia’s first sub-brand and its first venture into the highly competitive gaming market.

One advertisement appeared as a poster and showed a photograph of an alleyway at night. The text in the middle of the advertisement stated “This is where I took on three guys … and made them cry like babies.” At the foot of the advertisement was a picture of the mobile phone next to the text “Wireless multiplayer game play Game card titles from top publishers Supports 3D graphics Bluetooth MP3 music player – FM radio Triband mobile phone … N-GAGE NOKIA ANYONE ANYWHERE”.

A second advertisement appeared as a poster and in the Guardian Guide. It showed a photograph of a changing room with lockers. The text in the middle of the advertisement stated “This is where I made Kev look small”. The foot of the advertisement contained the same picture of the mobile phone and text as the first.

A third advertisement appeared as a poster and in the national press. It showed a photograph of a doorway in a run-down building. The text in the middle of the advertisement stated “This is where I cut them down to size”.

A fourth advertisement appeared as a poster and in the national press. It showed a photograph of a large, isolated caravan in front of a row of tall pine trees. The text in the middle of the advertisement stated “This is where I left Kate, Lucy and Michelle begging for more”.

A fifth advertisement appeared as a poster and in the Metro newspaper. It showed a photograph of a road and a lit bus shelter at night. The text in the middle of the advertisement stated “This is where I got further with Lara than anyone else.” At the foot of the advertisement was the text “Tomb Raider Starring Lara Croft … now on the N-GageTM game deck. Join Lara Croft in this new wireless 3d-action adventure …” and two pictures of action scenes from the Tomb Raider game. Next to that was a picture of the mobile phone and the text “N-GAGE NOKIA ANYONE ANYWHERE”.

A sixth advertisement appeared as a PG rated cinema commercial. In the first scene, the camera panned in on a car park. The text “This is where they ran me down” then appeared on the screen. In the third scene, the camera panned in on an empty road. The text “This is where I cried for help” then appeared on the screen. The final scene showed the mobile phone and the text “wireless multiplayer game play”. The phone then separated into two and the text “N-GAGE NOKIA ANYONE ANYWHERE n.gage.com” appeared on the screen.

A seventh advertisement appeared in the Evening Standard newspaper. It showed a photograph of a tent in the woods. The text in the middle of the advertisement stated “This is where I hunted them down”. At the foot of the advertisement was the text “Red Faction coming soon to the N-Gage game deck … takes you on a journey through 12 single player and 5 multiplayer levels …” and two pictures of action scenes from the Red Faction game. Next to that was a picture of the mobile phone and the text “N-GAGE NOKIA ANYONE ANYWHERE”.


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