back to article CHAINSAW HORROR advert earns GiffGaff a slap from regulator

GiffGaff has been slapped for a second time by the UK's advertising regulator, this time for scaring kids with its YouTube advert depicting a woman screaming in terror while being pursued by a chainsaw-wielding maniac. After yelling "Someone please help me" a stream of other screaming characters appeared in its ad last year, …

  1. John Robson Silver badge


    Isn't this a YouTube problem, not a GiffGaff one?

    Not that the ASA has as many teeth as a snail, but still

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Errr

      but YouTube is a US company so doesn't apply any laws.

    2. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Errr

      Quite! Seems on the one hand, they're telling GiffGaff they did everything they possibly could to ensure the ads were targeted properly, and on the other, telling them to do it better.

    3. Boothy

      Re: Errr

      @ John Robson

      Exactly my thought.

      Surely this ruling means that all advertising not deemed suitable for kids, must now been pulled from YouTube in the UK? At least until such a time as YouTube fix their filtering system, in order to catch this specific use case!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Errr

        "Surely this ruling means that all advertising not deemed suitable for kids, must now been pulled from YouTube in the UK?"

        More to the point, over 18s shouldn't be letting under 18s watch youtube using that login.

        Take 5 mins to setup a separate kiddie login and the "problem" would never have occured.

        1. wayward4now

          Re: Errr

          That's the part I don't get. How does the account holder become not responsible for their lack of intelligent use? The Brain Police should be hauling their ashes into court, for being STUPID enough to admit they allowed their account to be used by minors. I guess the beer company will be sued next when the kids get into the fridge?? It's getting just so stupid out there. While ignorance can be overcome, there is no hope for stupidity.

    4. mike2R

      Re: Errr

      It seems reasonable for the ASA to deal with the advertiser - its their advert after all. The advertiser can then either pressure the content provider to provide compliant targeting options, or avoid showing it with that provider if they are unable or unwilling to do so.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Errr

      Err....Snails have teeth, the ASA doesn't.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Errr

        In my defence I did say that the ASA doesn't have as many as a snail.

        Although I was also surprised that snails can have 14000 teeth - I shall revise my analogy.

        As many teeth as a sponge ball.

  2. banalyzer

    Anyone actually read the article?

    Giff Gaff did everything correctly, as did youtube.

    The child was watching something from an account that was signed in as 18+

    This is a simple case of 'stupid is as stupid does'

    1. Stuart 22

      Re: Anyone actually read the article?

      Ssssssh - don't tell anyone under 18 but you can also find 'Peter and the Wolf' on YouTube. And don't listen to Prokofiev ... absolute carnage if you are of a Anatidaen disposition.

      Best get them to stick to playing Grand Auto Theft methinks.

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Poor child

    Facing a future with daddy being a miserable whiner...

    A few sessions of Serious Sam should work as a therapy, perhaps.

    1. wikkity

      Re: Poor child

      > Facing a future with daddy being a miserable whiner...

      I assume you don't have kids, otherwise

      Poor child - Facing a future with a daddy who can't be bothered to stand up to ensure their children are protected from thoughtless companies.

      1. dogged

        Re: Poor child

        I was actually thinking

        Poor child - Facing a future with a daddy who can't be bothered to log out of an 18+ account when watching YouTube with his kid.

        1. wikkity

          Re: Poor child

          The issue here is that ads are being shown that are inapproriate for the content being _viewed_, it should not make any difference what age I am. I could be over 18 and be very sensitive to gore, even suggested. If I create a playlist called "Kids planet songs" and sit down to watch it I would not expect to have 18+ ads displayed in between videos.

          I paid for cinema tickets last weekend with a credit card, many people accept that as proof I'm 18+ when purchasing online. The film was a U, would you expect to see ads that are rated 12, 15, 18 before a U film? Of course not, because the _target_ audience are kids. So if the target audience for something online are kids the ads should be appropriate.

          > can't be bothered to log out

          Logging out may not be a practical option. What if the software obtains permissions for your You tube account from an account on the device. Would you consider it sensible to force someone to logout device wide prior to viewing a few videos on YouTube? A lot of third party software misuses (IMHO) authorisation to various service and not provide logout/account dissociation mechanisms, would you expect someone to log onto google and revoke that apps permissions befre using it?

          If someone needs to log out to ensure they don't see inappropriate advertisements you lose playlists, viewing history and more importantly, the ability to remotely (well room next door) monitor what is being watched and use chromecast to play stuff. Without being able to monitor and control what content is being played YouTube would be a no go for young children never mind a pain to use, which is a shame as there is loads of good learning resources on there, having to log off is severly limiting.

          Finally, something legal. In the UK, restrictions exist on ads that "might result in harm to children physically, mentally or morally", this is clearly an example hence the complaint was upheld.

          1. dogged


            Good argument, you've convinced me.

            However, I would still maintain that this one is on YouTube, not GiffGaff.

      2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

        Re: Poor child

        "can't be bothered to stand up to ensure their children are protected from thoughtless companies."

        Want to stand up to something? Choose something important.

        An ad with a guy with a chainsaw and a damsel in distress in it - is not important.

        1. wikkity

          Re: Poor child

          > Want to stand up to something? Choose something important.

          I don't agree. If you said only stand up for one thing I'd agree, but if we only stood up for the _important_ things then we'd be in sorry state of affairs. Over the years I've stood up and continue to stand up for many things and been to a lot of demonstrations, amongst other incidents I've had my head kicked in by Combat 18 and been spat on idiots who pretend to be religioius.

          > An ad with a guy with a chainsaw and a damsel in distress in it -

          It is if it upsets your child, clearly you have never seen your own child really upset ans distressed as a result of something that could be avoided by people questioning themselves if their actions have sideaffects.

          1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

            Re: Poor child

            But I remain unconvinced, sorry.

            Firstly, if everyone started "standing up" against everything they might find to be a slight irritant or annoyance, this country will become impossible to live in. Some things are better left ignored, lest bigger things be missed amongst the noise of pointless micro-protest. This is also good for one's blood pressure.

            Secondly, I still maintain that a guy with a chainsaw is nothing on the importance scale. If it was some hardcore porn or, say, Ed Miliband's speech, I would have also raised my eyebrows, I'm sure.

            Thirdly, the younglings need to have some resilience developed in them. Not all things in life are nice and cuddly. Occasionally something ugly shows up. Seeing daddy throwing toys from the pram because of a few seconds of innocuous video is a bad example for the kid.

            But I bet the child did not even notice the ad or that there was anything untoward about it. It's all about the dad. I know the type - a serial complainer. He'd be sitting there, watching stuff, in the hope he'd see something he could complain about. As I said - poor kid.

            Thousands must have seen that ad, only one complained - to me that says more about him than about the ad.

            Yeah, I know, I begun to seriously dislike the guy - you can see that, I'm sure! :-)

    2. h3

      Re: Poor child

      Hatred might be a better choice.

  4. g e

    So, no different, then

    To your 18yr old brother/babysitter/etc renting The Thing from Blockbuster and letting the kid watch it, in essence.

    Hardly John Carpenter's fault, etc

    (Yes THAT version of The Thing)

  5. tony72


    As we're all probably old enough here, here's a link to the horror on Vimeo. Pretty funny, props to GiffGaff.

  6. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Congradulatiuons ASA

    You have actually made me feel sorry for GiffGaff

  7. N2 Silver badge


    The real reason it was banned was because the operator was not wearing the correct PPE!

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Much ado about nothing....

    The parent was an idiot with no sense of self-responsibility. Pity that he/she can't be told "don't ever watch Youtube again."

  10. Haku

    "Ooooh! Have we got a video??"

    VYVYAN: Michael and I are going to indulge in an all night orgy of sex and violence!

    RICK: What, in the drawing room?

    VYVYAN: Yeah. First we're going to have sex with the Headless Corpse and the Virgin Astronaut.

    RICK: Ugh!. Won't the carpet get awfully sticky?

    VYVYAN: It's a video nasty!!!


    Hey if you want to watch fluffy / interesting stuff without worrying it'll warp someone's fragile little mind, is the place for you, except you might want an adblocker to be completely sure everything's good. It is SFW but you might spend too long watching stuff there.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    just think of the children - shut down that internet thingy its the only way to be sure (from orbit?)

  12. Mark 85 Silver badge

    What gives here?

    I notice a trend that any of us who say the parent should have some responsibility in this are downvoted? Is it that you'd rather slap Youtube around (maybe they should be) or that you don't think the parent should be blamed?

    There's nasty stuff out there and part of a parent's job is to use some common sense to both teach and protect the children. To put the onus on government or Youtube or others does the child a disservice. Or maybe the downvoter's are just a bunch of lawyers who'd rather have parents sue then shoulder some responsibility.

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