Midway has withdrawn an online video advertisement in the U.K., following a complaint to the UK Government-backed Advertising Standards Authority from a journalist monitoring two websites where the ad was being run.
The ad, apparently for Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
, showed two office workers engaging in a brawl that escalated to bloody proportions as one combatant finished by ripping out the other’s heart, and another man was decapitated with a hat. The complaint was submitted to the Advertising Standards Authority, which made a ruling against Midway, despite the two websites defending their practices.
One site, viralchart.com, said that "visitors to their site were advertisers checking the popularity of their own or other firms' viral ads and that they would not be offended by the content of the ad" and that they had received no complaints; the other, ttr2.co.uk, said that the site was designed and targeted to males 18-40, a demographic it felt would take no offense or shock at the ad.
Nevertheless, the ASA found Midway liable for using "shocking images to attract attention to their product," in violation of Committee of Advertising Practice codes 2.2 (for Principles), 5.1 (Decency), 9.1 (Fear and Distress), 11.1 (Violence and anti-social behaviour) and 47.2 (Children). Midway was not fined or penalized in any way, but was asked "not to repeat the approach", and was also told to check with CAP Copy Advice before airing future ads of this type.