MCV’s complaint to the ASA in full

Last week,

MCV submitted an official complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority

over the Government’s latest

Change4Life print ad


We have added further submissions as more evidence has come to light about what MCV believes to be an unfair and unwarranted attack on the UK video games industry.

If you wish to complain, you can do so here, at the ASA’s website.

MCV’s full submission reads:

The latest print ad from the Department Of Health’s Change4Life campaign depicts a low-lit room in which a young boy is sitting on a sofa, playing on his PlayStation 3. Above this, in big letters, is written: ‘Risk an early DEATH. Do nothing.’

"As the industry’s trade magazine, MCV is well placed to comment on the spurious link [this ad] explicitly makes between playing games and premature death.

Put simply, it’s hugely unfair and unrepresentative of the positive effect video games have on the UK’s youth. It’s also grossly inaccurate.

The link between video games and childhood obesity is completely unproven.

As the ad points out, the key to ensuring children don’t become obese is to ‘reduce how much fat they eat’. In addition to this, children need to lead an active life. Again, the ad addresses this: ‘Make sure your kids are active for an hour a day.’

Why, then, the explicit link with video games? Games neither preclude young people from being active, nor influence their eating habits. It simply makes no sense.

Worse than this, however, this ad risks having a hugely negative effect on the UK video games trade – as those uneducated in the evolution of the industry see it as damaging to their children.

From a commerce point of view, this is a woefully irresponsible thing for the Government to do during a recession – threatening the takings of hundreds of small games retail businesses in this country.

The advert implies to its audience (parents) that, by preventing their child from playing games, they will help ensure their future health.

Not only is this strictly not true, but runs the genuine risk of hurting small businesses.

This advert is misleading and makes unfair and untrue claims. It threatens people’s business through a spurious, unproven link.

"Furthermore, MCV believes that the ad contravenes part 9.2 of the ASA’s own CAP code, which reads:

‘Marketers may use an appeal [of] fear to encourage prudent behaviour or to discourage dangerous or ill-advised actions; [but] the fear likely to be aroused should not be disproportionate to the risk.’

"The Government’s own Byron Review found no solid evidence to link obesity and gaming.

"The fear (i.e. premature death) aroused in parents by this ad is definitely disproportionate to the ‘risk’ gaming poses – and will have a negative, unfair effect on UK trade."

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