Halloween ad for Blackpool Pleasure Beach banned because it is just too scary for young children

A zombie with a white, chalky face and cracked skin, with bloody, jagged teeth, yellow eyes and matted hair, screams at the camera.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach

A photo of a zombie with yellow eyes, cracked skin and jagged teeth – used to promote a Halloween event at Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach – must not be used again because it is ‘likely to distress young children’, the UK’s advertising watchdog has ruled.

Which, given it’s now almost Christmas, isn’t too much of a problem...

26 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the digital poster for the ‘Journey to Hell Freak Nights’, which was spotted at the Trafford Centre in September.

“[They] believed that the image used in the poster was inappropriate and disturbing for young children [and] challenged whether the ad was unsuitable for outdoor display,” the ruling reads.

10 complainants also claimed that it would be “disturbing” for adults, too.

According to Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s website, Journey to Hell was a “scare zone live actor and action based experience”, including “two rollercoasters and two dark rides”.

Responding to the ASA’s inquiries, the popular tourist attraction said the promotion “was not targeted at children” and due to it being located in the Trafford Centre, children would have been accompanied by an adult, with any viewing of the ad being “brief”.

“[Blackpool Pleasure Beach] explained that the ad was shown … at a time when similar images and themes were displayed in public and was no more likely to cause fear and distress than any other examples.

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“They believed that the number of complaints received was small for an image that would have been seen by thousands of people from a wide range of demographics.

“They stated that there had been no intent to cause fear or distress and neither the image nor the wording of the ad offended the general public’s sensitivities,” the decision continues.

In its conclusion, the ASA wrote: “[We] that the face in the ad had a very pale appearance, with cracked skin and yellow eyes, and that its mouth was open, apparently shouting or screaming.

“There was blood around its mouth and its teeth were jagged, suggesting the character had recently bitten something, and overall it had a threatening expression.

“We considered that the image was likely to distress young children, particularly, but not only in combination with the text ‘Journey to Hell Freak Nights’.

“For those reasons, we considered that the poster was unsuitable for display in an untargeted medium where it was likely to be seen by young children. We concluded that the ad breached the Code.”

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