Kill-ad 2: The Sony Conundrum

Last week Sony Canada pulled the ads from Bus stops due to the closeness to schools. Was that the right decision?

Late last week Sony Canada decided to pull all the bus stop ads for their Killzone 2 game. This came after complaints were aired by school teachers and parents due to the ads’ closeness to schools.

Of the many complaints aired one was from Davis Mirza, a teacher at Pauline Johnson Junior Public School:

‘My kids, who come from a lot of different countries, who have to experience violence, who basically come here to seek shelter and safety, that’s the stuff they don’t need to see.’

This and the many other complaints voiced caused Sony to make the decision to have the ads pulled a week ahead of their normal schedule.

Sony has since made the decision to not allow any ads for their games to be placed within a certain distance from schools. What that distance is has not been determined.This has also brought up other concerns over whether Sony has a right to place their ads anywhere they choose as well as how far is far enough.

Canadian games are rated using the ESRB and are thus under the contractual guidelines of the ESRB advertising practices. According to these guidelines:

‘Companies must not specifically target advertising for entertainment software products rated “Teen,” “Mature” or “Adults Only” to consumers for whom the product is not rated as appropriate.’

According to this guideline, having an ad for an M rated game such as Killzone 2 on a bus stop next to a school would be in violation of the agreement they made with the ESRB. Judging by this policy and Sony’s actions it would be wise for any publisher to follow suit.

One other concern that may come up is recent bannings involving M rated games advertised on the sides of buses. In those instances the transit authorities were the ones making the decision to ban those ads and by all accounts wrong in that decision. First they banned M rated games from being advertised but still allow R rated movies and MA-17 rated TV shows to be advertised. Secondly, those ads were placed on moving vehicles that would possibly be seen by more adults than children.

This is an instance of Sony doing the pulling and making the guidelines of where their ads can be placed after determining that the ads were placed too close to schools. They have every right to make such a decision.

Originally published on (

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