Spotify’s latest ad features a catchy popular pop tune and “a medley of horror film tropes” in the lead-up to its final tagline, per NPR: “Killer songs you can’t resist.” But it’s just that horror theme, along with what Billboard calls a “terrifying eyeless doll,” that has now prompted a UK watchdog group to ban the commercial.
The minute-long ad shows a bunch of young people living in a house together, starting their mornings with a “wake-up playlist” that includes Camila Cabello’s “Havana”—a song that apparently yanks the aforementioned doll out of its own deep sleep and sets it off on what appears to be a killing spree.
No gore is shown (the doll just starts unnervingly showing up in unexpected places), but that it’s up to murder is assumed.
The Advertising Standards Authority didn’t like the overall feel of the ad, especially when it comes to kids watching it.
“The implied threat of violence [and] the fact the ad was set inside the home, including a bedtime setting, and featured a doll” is particularly troublesome, the group says, adding it’s “likely to cause undue distress to children.”
The ASA got pulled into the fray after a parent complained their kids saw the ad on a YouTube video-game channel and became upset. Spotify says most of the people who saw the ad were adults (the target audience) and that viewers could opt out of it after five seconds—seven seconds before the doll makes an appearance.
Still, in a statement it notes “regret” for causing distress, adding: “We take our responsibilities as a marketer very seriously.” ET Canada and JOE.co note the ASA’s role in keeping other ads off the air, including one for the horror film The Nun and a breast reduction ad that ran during the series Love Island. (Spotify recently muted this artist.)