The UK Advertising Standards Authority has ordered the takedown of a YouTube ad for Machine Zone's Mobile Strike as it objectifies women.
The ad features two women in bikinis playing the game on sun loungers, before a third woman walks towards them and joins the game.
A complaint made to the ASA said the ad was offensive for objectifying women. Machine Zone denied this. It stated that the game - being on mobile - can be played anywhere, hence the pool setting. The firm stated that it "believed the juxtaposition between what people normally did by the pool (i.e. relax and lounge) with the visuals of the players battling it out with jets and tanks was what made the ad so striking. That theme was used in other ads for the game - for example, players battling one another in cafes, restaurants and the launderette. The intention was to show that the Mobile Strike game could liven up a player's time spent in everyday, sometimes boring, spaces."
It also denied objectifying women because of the setting, and that it believed it wouldn't have received the complaint had the women been 'typically thin models'. The ad features 'real-sized' women to give the impression of mythical warrior women such as Wonder Woman. The use of 'real-sized women', Machine Zone told the ASA, was a nod to its diverse play base.
Machine Zone said that the ad, which has been running for several months, had not received a previous complaint and had been praised by fans for featuring real-sized women. YouTube stated it did not violate their advertising policies.
However, ASA didn't agree with Machine Zone's take on the ad. It said: "The ASA noted that the images of the women wearing swimwear bore no relation to the product being advertised - a combat-themed mobile game app. We also noted that in some of the scenes, the mannerisms of the women were seductive or sexually-charged. For example, in one scene, a woman wearing a thong bikini was seen walking towards a sun lounger and the camera angle was taken from below and behind so that as she walked into the scene, only her legs and her thong bikini bottoms were in view.
"We noted that another scene featuring one of the women wearing a swimsuit was shot in slow motion, and the emphasis was on her body rather than the mobile game app she was playing. One of the camera angles was shot side-on which highlighted her waist and chest. As she approached the camera, she flicked her hair back, stopped and looked seductively into the camera. We noted that the ad featured plus-sized models but we considered that fact was irrelevant. For those reasons, we considered that the ad objectified women and was therefore offensive."
The ASA said the ad must not be shown again in its current form.