People with clown phobia fail to get distressing movie poster banned

Coulrophobics were unable to convince England's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to ban a movie poster with a sinister-looking clown.

The ASA issued the following statement about its decision:

The ASA acknowledged that some children and adults considered that the ad was distressing especially in an untargeted, outdoor medium and that consumers with coulrophobia could find the ad distressing.

We noted that the ad had a dark format and the image of the clown stared out from the poster and had a scruffy appearance.

However, we considered the image was not menacing and noted the ad included no other images that were likely to contribute to such an impression.

The ad also included the text "They know what scares you. Poltergeist" but we considered in the context of ads for a horror movie it was not overtly threatening or suggestive of danger, rather it was likely to be understood by consumers as being a typical reflection of a movie of that format.

Although we acknowledged that some distress had been caused, because we did not consider that the overall impression of the ads was such that they were likely to cause excessive fear or distress, particularly in the context of an ad for a horror film, we concluded that they were not irresponsibly targeted in outdoor media.