The UK’s advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), banned a TV ad for Take Two’s computer game Duke Nukem Forever from being aired in peak time. The ad, which had been cleared with a post-9pm timing restriction, featured animated scenes from the game including naked women dancing in a strip club, a full frontal view of a semi-naked woman with pixilation obscuring her nipples and bottom, and two school girls about to kiss. The ad also featured quickly edited action scenes such as an aircraft firing weapons over a blazing city, a man being punched and a robot marching through a street. The ASA received 34 complaints that the ad was offensive and irresponsible because it was sexist, violent, overly explicit and featured imagery which was likely to harm children and vulnerable people. Defending the ad, Take Two said that Duke Nukem Forever was a cartoonish, over-the-top, humorous take on the first shooter video-game and was deliberately presented in an exaggerated and non-realistic way, in an attempt to send up the muscle-bound, ultra-macho protagonist, Duke Nukem. Take Two pointed out that the imagery shown in the ad was computer generated and cartoonish in style (rather than photorealistic), and that the images in sequences of a sexually suggestive nature were pixilated or non-explicit; they believed the imagery was of a type commonly seen in TV, film or music videos and that it was not offensive. The ASA was content that the violent imagery was representative of the game’s content and that it was not overly graphic, considering the post-9pm scheduling restriction. However, it found that the ad’s strip club scenes, showing “the women’s naked bodies and their very sexual movements and gyrations”, were inappropriate even for a post-9pm advert; it also considered that the scene of the two schoolgirls about to kiss appeared to link teenage girls with sexually provocative behaviour. It concluded that the ad was in breach of rules on responsible advertising and harm and offence, and that it could not be shown before 11pm.
The ad had shown actual scenes from the computer game, rated 18 in the UK. Whilst the ASA was not surprised by the scenes of violence shown, and it did not consider the ad overtly sexist, it considered that the sexual content was overly explicit for prime time broadcast. It did not matter that the women and girls featured were clearly fictional, computer generated characters; the titillating strip club sequences made the computer game advert a late night only affair.