Billie Eilish ad cleared with ‘ex-kids’ restriction over distressing images

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Billie Eilish (Owen Humphreys/PA)

A television ad for teenage singer Billie Eilish’s album has been cleared with an “ex-kids” restriction after a watchdog found it was likely to distress younger children.

The ad for the US singer’s debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, screened at around 8.15pm in March, with scenes such as feet dragging along the floor and Eilish with black tears flowing down her face and her head being pulled back and forth by several gloved hands.

Other images included a person’s legs hanging in the air and swinging back and forth, a person dressed in a gown standing in a darkened corridor, and Eilish in a bright white room with gloved hands ripping a gown off her back.

Ad clearance agency Clearcast had restricted the commercial from being screened during or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children.

However a viewer challenged whether it was scheduled appropriately on the grounds that it contained distressing scenes, including a hanging body.

Eilish’s label, Universal Music UK, acknowledged the complaint but did not comment.

Clearcast said the ad was similar in tone and visuals to zombie programmes and video games and was worthy of a similar timing restriction.

It believed the ad warranted an “ex-kids” scheduling restriction based on the potential for distress from showing black fluid drain from the singer’s eyes, feet levitating across the floor and later suspended in the air, and the more general tone of the ad.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said: “We considered the tone of the ad was dark and eerie, and that some of the scenes were unsettling. However, the scenes were highly stylised and removed from reality, and we considered they would be understood as creative content from the album’s music videos.

“In that context, we considered the ad was unlikely to cause fear or distress to adults or older children. However, we considered the ad’s content was likely to distress younger children.”

It noted that Clearcast’s restriction meant the ad should not be shown in or around programmes made for or specifically targeted at under-16s.

It added: “Although we understood Clearcast could alternatively have applied a stricter scheduling restriction, we had not seen any evidence that it had been broadcast during programming principally directed at, or of strong appeal to, young children.

“We therefore concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and did not breach the Code.”

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