Crime Life ad under fire

Print advertisement for Konami's thugged-up action game banned for potentially racist portrayal of black men, irresponsible encouragement of violence.

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Last week, a pair of Activision's Call of Duty 2 ads were ordered off from British TV because some viewers mistook their prerendered computer graphics movies as a representation of actual gameplay. Today, a print ad for Konami's Crime Life: Gang Wars in the London edition of Metro was similarly banned by The Advertising Standards Authority, a UK-based independent body that governs over the country's advertising codes.

A complainant objected that the ad was offensive and irresponsible because it "exploited racial stereotypes, glorified violence, and encouraged antisocial behavior." The ad showed five black men set against a street scene, wielding guns, a baseball bat, and a hammer. The tagline "Rule the streets or fall by the wayside" appeared above the scene.

Konami defended itself, saying the ad was not racist, since the men in it represented members of the rap group D12, who appear in the game. It also said that while the weapons and slogan may be suggestive of violence, it didn't actually depict anything violent. The ASA ordered Konami not to run it again based on the fact that the ad violated codes regarding taste and decency, violence and antisocial behavior, and advertiser responsibility. For its part, Konami told the agency that it hadn't received any complaints about the ad and had no plans to run it again anyway.

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