Australia Bans Dead Island: Riptide Advertisement: Here’s Why

By Binu Paul , Updated May 30, 2013 09:40 AM EDT
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Advertising Standards Board (ASB) in Australia has banned an advertisement for Dead Island: Riptide that depicts a suicide bombing. The ban comes as a result of several complaints from members of the public arguing the advertisement uses images which are strongly suggestive of suicide.

The ad displays portions of the opening cinematic where a couple, stranded in a shipwrecked sailboat on an island infested with zombies, commit suicide in the face of a zombie onslaught by triggering a gas canister explosion. The ad ends with the image of a dead man hanging from a palm tree next to the title "Dead Island Riptide" dripping with blood.

A major complaint received by the ASB is that the ad is "too graphic in terms of its depiction of suicide, particularly the final image of the man hanging from a tree. I think that this could be very traumatic for people who have experienced the suicide of a family member by hanging (or any other means)," Australian website Mumbrella reports.

Replying to the complaints received, video game advertiser All Interactive Entertainment acknowledged that a degree of violence is portrayed in the advertisement but justified this by stating that the limited depiction of violence is contextually relevant.

Here is what the advertiser had to say about the ad (via Mumbrella):

"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."

However, ABS did not buy the argument and says the suggestion of suicide is contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety.

Here is the ABS statement:

"The Board noted the fantasy content and the stylised nature of the advertisement and 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 which are strongly suggestive of suicide is not appropriate in the context of a television advertisement for a computer game."

Watch the advertisement in question below:

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