Zombie Game Commercial Banned In Australia For Showing Suicide

Get a good look at that clip up top, because you won't be seeing it on your TV screens ever again. Following complaints from members of the public, Australia's Advertising Standards Board has banned the advertisement for Dead Island: Riptide, mostly on the grounds that it uses "images which are strongly suggestive of suicide".

In defending the clip, local publisher AIE said:

The cinematic implication of violence in the advertisement is intended to convey the desolate terror afflicting the game characters, and I believe is contextually relevant to the product being advertised, as it conveys the hopelessness of the games’ characters as they are faced with the overwhelming horror and violence of vast numbers of zombies hunting them, without actually depicting the violence of zombie vs character interaction in the game.

The final scene of the advertisement shows the logo of the game, which consists of a silhouetted palm tree, signifying the island in the game title, a silhouetted zombie hanging by the neck from the palm tree, signifying the dead in the game title, placed to the left of the title ‘Dead Island Riptide’ which is written in dark dripping red to appear bloody.

But the ASB were having none of it, deciding:

The Board noted the fantasy content and the stylised nature of the advertisement, and it considered that the issue of suicide is a depiction of violence, which is not justifiable even in the context of an advertisement for a computer game aimed at adults.

The issue of suicide is a very significant community concern and considered that the use of images that are strongly suggestive of suicide is not appropriate in the context of a television advertisement for a computer game.

Good thing they only had to handle complaints about the ad and not the game itself.

Case Report [ASB, via Mumbrella]


    Seems fair to me. The difference between an ad and a a tv show is that ads aren't scheduled, so you don't know what your going to get. Also: f**k the advertisers of Dead Island for making another misleading ad.

      That's not correct. Ads are scheduled, to a degree. Certain types of ads can't be shown til after a certain time at night and advertisers can pay extra to have their commercials shown during sporting events, primetime shows etc. Ever notice you don't *ever* see an ad for a toy during that toys same cartoon? It's because they have to, by Australian law, schedule that ad not to appear during the broadcast. You can thank Transformers for that in the 80s.

      Last edited 31/05/13 8:16 am

        Thats true, but I'm trying to explain why there is a hard limit on what ads show. Specifically, although there are guidelines for what content can be shown broadly when, people don't choose to watch specific ads. Consequently, the regulations for advertising arw tighter.

          No they are not. The advertising industry is self regulated. All you need is a key no. Ads basically just have to conform to minimum broadcast standards colour safe, audio within limits etc. A broadcaster can refuse to put up an ad because of of legal reasons - ch9 did it recently. There are guidelines regarding childrens broadcasting and sporting and the amount of ads you can show but if you have the money - anything goes really. The only legislation I know of relates to cigarettes. The ASB is a self-regalatory body.. if you don't like an ad - you complain to broadcaster.

            Yeah - my bad. It is self regulated. That actually explains this - they tend to err on the side of caution so they don't get legislation thrown their way.

              You're right. It is a balancing act. The main point is -typically ads are not reviewed unless a complaint is made. From memory you must complain to the broadcaster - if you don't get a reply or it is unsatisfactory then the complaint can be passed on to the ASB via freeTV or the ombudsman. IMO self-regulation is good - it seems to work.

          Absolutely, there definitely always should be a harder line on commercials than normal tv shows. You can choose to watch a specific television show by schedule but you cannot choose to watch a commercial by schedule this is true and inarguable.

          I have no problem with this ad not being on tv, it contains content that breaches then standards set on free to air tv, which limits its content to an MA standard (given what we see in movies and shows thats a pretty high standard compared to games *still*, you can show nearly all the SAW movies unedited on TV for instance).

      I know! the trailer for the original dead island was so moving, I inferred that the story would be remotely to do with those events or their aftermath, but no. If only they were as good at making games as trailers.

    So... suicide is bad and not to be shown in a fantasy setting but the government bodies are not going to do anything about real world things that potentially lead to suicide. Priorities! You can't have it both ways. You care or you don't.

    Plus when did implying suicide mean "support for suicide"?

    Wait...It wasn't pulled because it's a shit game?

      Most of the complaints and negative reviews say it's fun to play, it's just not a real change over its predecessor.

        When I walk sideways, I don't tilt my head like some retarded goon. Just sayin'.

    Wow..... thats a pretty lame clip to be banned!
    Seriously, some people need to harden up

      Check the ASB's list of dismissed complaints and have a read of the whinging that the complainants have made if you ever feel like losing complete faith in humanity.


      Some are hilarious in their sheer stupidity; there's one complaining about angry Xmas elves using the word Hell for example, but the worst thing is the ASB require themselves to respond to each and every complaint so some poor sucker or suckers is being paid to take these complaints seriously and investigate them.

        Wow. They banned two Oreo's commercials?
        Hard hitting stuff.
        WTH is wrong with people?

          My theory is some people in this world are never truly happy unless they're miserable and make everyone miserable with them so they confect outrage at every little thing that could possibly ever offend someone.

          it only takes 1 ned flanders type of person to complain about an ad for the ad to be reviewed just like that tampon ad from last with woman talking about vaginal health ( ad recieved complaints because vagina was mentioned, thankfully the ad was not pulled)

        I just read the determination on Riptide and it says that it was originally shown during UFC on PayTV. I would have thought that if you're watching UFC you can handle a bit of zombie violence and the fictional depiction of suicide. Personally I had no problem with either examples of suicide but people interpret things differently.

      Sometimes i really hate living in Australia, but it is best country in the world *conditions apply*

      Last edited 31/05/13 2:18 pm

    Good thing we got that R18+ rating so we could finally treat games as an adult medium... Oh wait, it doesn't seem to matter. The board still prefers to treat gaming, even an adult game, as something to be changed and banned in order to protect the people.

      This is a TV ad. No one is touching the game.

    Regardless of concerns. The ad was in high rotation during the walking dead on FX. The game has been released - I assume the publisher doesn't really care anymore.

    Am I mis-reading this or does the copy right at the end of the ad read 2011?

    Last edited 31/05/13 1:57 pm

    I do see their point. It is a pretty intense ad.
    what if they edited it? Take out the explosion, and the hanging dead guy.
    Or is it just in general with the overall suicide theme that is pissing people off?
    either way, it's a really cool ad. Too bad we can't say the same for the game.

    Why wouldn't you just change the channel? Is an ad really worth the time it takes to complain? I don't understand why people still watch commercial tv, when they have so many better options.

    Am I really the only one who thinks this way?

    Here's my attitude towards advertising in general:
    You choose what media to watch/play/read/listen to. You do not choose what advertising you consume. Therefore, advertisers cannot cause offense or use potentially upsetting themes to sell a product. Especially when there's no provided context to justify that approach.

    So what i'm getting is that in a zombie apocalypse the government will get shitty at me if i eat a shotgun... Good to know.

    Because the alternative to what those two people in the clip do (i.e. get mobbed and ripped to shreds by a pack of zombies) is a better and more humane?

    I think some people really have nothing better to do than waste their life complaining about everything they possibly can...

    Might want to update the article to let people know that the ASB is a self regulated body like ESRB in the US (for both the article here and on the US site so that pople dont get it mixed up as being a government board like the ACB)

    Didn't something like this turn up with the last game? I don't think viewers are objecting to the people blowing up in the boat, that's emotional story telling and within context. They're objecting to the swinging corpse in the game's title card, which doesn't have a direct context. They could have displayed that particular zombie in a multitude of ways because that zombie doesn't have a direct context in the same sense as the couple in the boat, but instead an implied context for the overall game, making it an artistic statement and not actually a story element.

    Also, these are the same guys that decided to put a mutilated bikini torso statue in their preorder... they knew controversy was going to follow and instead of republishing a separate title card for Australian audiences, I'm willing to bet they made their TV budget purposefully low because they expected it to be pulled and then grace the front page of gaming news across the world, thus giving them more advertising.

    They knew this was going to happen. They planned it. And when anyone complains now, they'll say "At least we're not pulling a Dante's Inferno"

    I can save this ad, since they won't be able to animate another one in time. Just add these lines:

    "Honey, we've used up all the gas for our flamethrower."
    "At least we still have this lighter. Who wants one last cigarette before we are eaten?"
    The camera changes, showing the boat.
    "Did that zombie just throw a bomb in here?"
    Explosion ensues. No suicide!

    Touching commercial, sub-par game? Yep, that sounds like Dead Island.

    Suicide has always been a banned topic on Aus ads, Death in general isn't really allowed to be shown in advertising here. The only ads that get away with it are anti-smoking/speeding ads (goverment safety things) and even they have specific rules they need to follow or they will be banned too.
    Foxtel is probably a bit different, I'm not sure how advertising laws apply to it but I assume it's not quite the same as free-to-air tv (afterall, they can show adult shows anytime while free-to-air is restricted).

    You know that a gatorade ad was banned because a guy jumped in front of a train (moving in the same direction) and outran it. I can see dumb kids thinking this drink makes them superman, but banning it? for fucks sake, get over yourselves you nanny state tards.

    If I was in their situation (the two in the clip), I'd do the same thing too.

    “images which are strongly suggestive of suicide”

    Suggestive? It actually displayed an act of suicide.

    1. Fair call.
    2. Game ads still appear on television?
    3. Wait........Whats a television?

    I liked the trailer.... but im also pretty drunk so im just gunna chill out and I dunno play some defiance and drink this glass of water next to me... at this point if someone offered me dead Island riptide I probably buy it but be dissapointed it not like the trailer.... I ned emotinal monemts like this trailer not just kill this stomp that,... eh fuck it Im gunna buy metro this week end probably... Tim efor waters.

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