Warner Bros. has been cautioned for including an advert for It: Chapter Two in a Spotify playlist aimed at children.
The trailer for the horror movie, featuring the voice of evil clown Pennywise, appeared on the Classical Lullabies on the music streaming app.
Tracks on the playlist included Children’s Music No.1: I. Lullaby, 5 English Nursery Tunes and For Children Vol 1.
The ad featured the voice of Pennywise the Dancing Clown saying, “For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you. Oh I missed you.” This was followed by the sound of laughing clowns and then the title of the film and date of release.
One listener complained to the UK Advertising Standards Association (ASA) after playing the list for their child only to hear the trailer for the film It: Chapter Two - which is rated 15 - between tracks, believing they had been “inappropriately targeted.”
The ASA ruled: “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.
“We considered that the playlist was designed primarily to be played to and therefore likely to be heard by young children. Spotify provided no explanation as to why an ad targeted using the parameter ‘Real Time Genre is not Children’ had been played during a playlist designed to be heard by young children.
“We therefore considered that although Warner Bros had taken steps to target the ad responsibly, because it appeared around content that was likely to be heard by young children, the ad had been inappropriately targeted.
“We told Warner Bros. Entertainment UK Ltd to ensure that future ads that were unsuitable for children did not appear in media which was designed primarily for children.”
Warner Bros. Entertainment UK Ltd told the ASA the ad reflected themes of the It:Chapter Two film and was intended to invoke feelings of suspense in the listener. They said the ad might have been perceived as mildly scary, but it avoided violence, offensive language, gore and elements of the film which might have been considered overly scary.
They used the parameters “Age is 18-44” and “Real Time Genre is not Children” (also known as “No Kids Music”) to ensure the ad was appropriately targeted.
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.
Yahoo Movies UK has contacted Warner Bros for comment.