A bizarrely violent advert for the new OnePlus 5 has been hit with the ban hammer for being “unexpectedly shocking”.
The ad racked up a staggering 28 complaints, sent to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), because the online ad was excessively gory, distressing, and posted to content intended for young children.
The ad agency behind the video, Lucky Generals, is also responsible for several other banned ads, including a TV spot for bookmakers, Paddy Power, and a tourism advert for HostelWorld.
The OnePlus advert is framed like a short horror movie – titled “Lake Blood”, with visual references to classic slasher films, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th.
It begins with a teenage girl at a lakeside cabin in the woods, who suddenly sees a chainsaw-wielding killer approaching. The killer, dressed in a bloodstained clothing and masked by a ragged sack, lurches ominously towards the girl.
In a comic twist, the girl eagerly starts taking snaps of the monstrous attacker on her phone – oblivious to her imminent death.
The ad gets even more absurd when a second teenager emerges from the woods, limping on a badly bleeding leg. He slaps the phone out of the girl’s hand, only to then give her a new OnePlus 5, because it’s the “best phone on the market for taking high quality photographs”.
The teenagers discuss the advantages of the OnePlus 5’s camera – eventually deciding to demonstrate the phone’s quality by taking a selfie with the advancing killer.
The teenage girl poses for the photo just as the madman prepares his killing blow. The ad then cuts to a product shot of the phone, displaying the photo of the girl’s final moments on the screen. A voiceover ironically states that the teens made “clearly the smarter choice”.
Aside from a few brief glances of bloody clothes, the advert is relatively inoffensive up to this point – relying entirely on implied threat. However, in its final moments, the ad cuts back to the cabin to show the killer with the OnePlus 5, drenched in blood between two fresh, teenage corpses.
The ASA investigation into the ad turned into an unusual debate over the cultural understanding of slasher movie tropes, the line between parody and imitation, and the ironic qualities of ukulele music.
Eventually, it was decided that the ad was excessive, and it has been banned from appearing again in its current form – the ASA’s opinion apparently swayed by a disturbed 7-year-old, who saw the ad just before a Thomas the Tank Engine video.