Habito cleared of ‘gruesome’ advert complaints

Ryan Fowler

April 22, 2020


Online mortgage broker Habito has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) after one of its Hey Habito TV and video on demand (VOD) adverts resulted in a complaint. 

The TV ad saw a cartoon style man viewing a house that was for sale before being chased and attacked by a pack of werewolves who ripped apart his body, exposing his skeleton and internal organs.

The man’s dismembered skeletal hand then pressed a button on a mobile phone, which said ‘Habito Go’. The scene changed again as a set of keys flying on wings opened the door to the house, which had a ‘Sold’ sign outside.

The voice-over said: “Don’t let anyone else get your dream home. Get ahead of the pack with Habito Go. It’s either Hell or Habito.”

However, the ASA received complaints from people who believed that the ads were too gruesome and graphic to be seen by children.

Habito responded to the advertising watchdogs complaints and informed it that it had followed the correct rules for adverts seen before the watershed.

It said that Clearcast (the ad clearance service) had cleared the TV ad with an ‘ex-kids’ restriction, which meant that the ad could not be transmitted in, or adjacent to, programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children under 16.

They had followed the restriction, which also meant that on non-broadcast platforms such as VOD the ad could not be shown in or around programmes which were made for, or specifically targeted at, children.

They added that their buying strategy actively avoided content that was likely to be viewed by children, on TV and VOD.

Habito ads were run during programmes such as Miss Marple, White House Farm, Granchester and Vera on ITV Hub, and Crazy Delicious on ALL 4. All of which were all broadcast on TV after 8 pm and the majority of those programmes were broadcast after 9 pm.

On that basis, the programmes in which the ads were shown had an older target audience and were not programmes which would be categorised as family programmes.

As such the ASA has cleared Habito. It’s finding read: “The ad, which depicted the process of buying a property, featured a gory horror sequence in a cartoon format, exaggerated sound effects, and imagery which was fantastical in nature.

“The ASA considered that it was unlikely to cause fear or distress to older children, but that it was likely to cause fear and be distressing to young children.

“The TV ad was subject to a scheduling restriction that prevented it from being shown in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children under 16.

“The VOD service providers had also used the equivalent restriction when serving the ad in that media.

“We considered those restrictions were sufficient to ensure that the ad was unlikely to be seen by young children, and we had not seen any evidence that the ad had been broadcast or served against that restriction.

“We therefore concluded that the ad had been appropriately restricted.”

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