The Advertising Standards Authority has taken issue with an ad run by Spotify in June this year on YouTube that drew on the tropes of horror films, claiming that the tone, the setting and the narrative events were “particularly likely” to scare younger viewers. In short, the ad showed a spooky doll menacing children if they played a particular song and the ASA has ordered that Spotify ensure that more careful targeting of its ads happens in the future and that they clear the acceptability thresholds for younger audiences.

“The fact that the ad was set inside a home, including a bedtime setting, and featured a doll, meant it was particularly likely to cause distress to children who saw it,” said the ASA in its ruling, arguing it was not made clear enough that the ad was not in fact a trailer for a horror film. Spotify argued the ad did not feature any gore or violence and the repeated plays of ‘Havana’ by Camila Cabello were clearly intended as tongue in cheek. The music service has issued a statement saying, “We acknowledge the ruling from the ASA and regret any distress the ad may have caused the complainant.” We wonder if the creative for the ad was led by Daniel Eek. (Sorry.)

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