An in-game ad for the online game Dream Zone: Interactive Story , was seen on 4 January 2021 in the online property trading game, Landlord. It featured a cartoon video of a woman being splashed in her face with water by a faulty tap. On-screen
text stated Turn it off. She bent down and looked into a cupboard under the sink and saw a leaking pipe. Behind her was a woman wearing a towel about to hand over a mobile phone. Two buttons were shown with the options Help her and Take advantage. A
super-imposed cartoon hand selected the Take advantage button. The woman wearing the towel bit her lip and the video shot to the first woman's face. She displayed a startled expression and then smiled. Beneath the video, text stated Play and have fun You
choose your destiny.
The app was described by SWAG MASHA in the Apple App store as a series of interactive stories for guys and a thrilling game for men.
A complainant, who believed the ad was sexually
suggestive, challenged whether the ad:
was irresponsible and offensive because it objectified women; and
had been irresponsibly targeted.
Reality Games, the publisher of the game app in which the ad appeared, said that since they were notified of the complaint, they had blocked ads for the game Dream Zone: Interactive Story from being served.
ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld
The ad, which was for a dating and love simulation game for men, featured two women; one looking into a cupboard and the other behind her wearing a towel. Two options appeared on-screen for the
woman standing up: to either help her or take advantage of the woman looking into the cupboard. We considered that the option to take advantage had sexual connotations and alluded to non-consensual sexual activity where the woman looking into the
cupboard would be unaware of the second character's intentions. We considered that the ad objectified and stereotyped women by presenting them as objects in a scenario designed for the purposes of titillating viewers. Overall, we considered that the ad
was likely to cause serious offence and included a gender stereotype in a way that was likely to cause harm. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ad was
for a game that featured adult themes and sexually suggestive content, which was seen in an unrelated online property trading game. We considered that because this specific ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence it was
not suitable to be featured in any game. More generally, we expected Dream Zone to have targeted their ads for adult games to users aged 18 and over by using age-verification measures including interest-based targeting factors that described an adult
audience and excluded a child audience. However, the ad was seen in a game that had an age rating of 4+ years and therefore could be downloaded by children. The Dream Zone game had an age rating of 17+ years but did not feature any verification measures
that would prevent the game being downloaded by children who had seen the ad.
Furthermore, we considered that those playing an unrelated game would not expect to be served an ad for a dating game which featured adult content. We
acknowledged that on receipt of the complaint the publisher of the game in which the ad was seen had taken measures to ensure that the ad would not be shown in the game. Nevertheless, Dream Zone were responsible for ensuring that their ads were correctly
targeted and had not done so. We therefore concluded that the ad had been irresponsibly targeted.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Swag Masha LLC to ensure that their ads were socially responsible and did
not cause serious or widespread offence by objectifying women. We told them to ensure that they did not present gender stereotypes in a way that was likely to cause harm and to ensure that their ads were responsibly targeted.