We’ve heard some weak excuses in our time, but suggesting that you “did not believe the playlist was designed primarily for children” when the playlist is called ‘Classical Lullabies’ and has several tracks mentioning children in their title? It’s not the strongest of defences, and especially not when what you’re defending is the appearance of famous fictional killer clown Pennywise in an audio ad inserted into that playlist.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority certainly wasn’t impressed, and has ruled against Warner Bros Entertainment (the advertiser) following a complaint from a Spotify listener who played the playlist for their child, only to hear Pennywise saying ‘For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you’ before shouting ‘Oh I missed you!’ amid suitably creepy music. “We considered those elements meant the ad was likely to cause distress to young children, and that it should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of them hearing it,” ruled the ASA.
Warner Bros had argued that it used the parameters ‘Age is 18-44’ and ‘Real Time Genre is not Children’ when targeting the ad, while “Spotify said they believed the parameters used by Warner Bros to target the ad were appropriate and that they did not believe the playlist was designed primarily for children”. While the ruling ordered Warner Bros to “ensure that future ads that were unsuitable for children did not appear in media which was designed primarily for children”, this feels like it’s Spotify’s problem to solve.