Viewers complained that its flashing images triggered photo-sensitive epilepsy. One viewer who suffers from photo-sensitive epilepsy reportedly suffered a seizure. The TV commercial for a Citroen DS4 vehicle (running since May 2011) has been since been banned. Advertising watchdogs said it breached the rule that ads must not include visual effects or techniques likely to affect viewers with the medical condition.
The ad, which appeared on Sky, Watch, ITV, Quest and UK Gold, showed rapidly-changing scenes and the word ‘Yes’ flashing across the screen in various forms. Ten viewers complained to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the flashing images caused the onset of symptoms associated with photo-sensitive epilepsy.
See the ad here:
The ad industry’s rule there states: “Adverts must not include visual effects or techniques that are likely to affect adversely members of the audience with photosensitive epilepsy.”
However the broadcasters said the ad had been cleared for broadcasting after it passed an industry test which analyses flashes and patterns. They advised the ASA that the large word ‘Yes’ flashing on its own in the commercial did not breach the industry code. The ASA said: “We noted that Ofcom had identified that the ad had met all three conditions needed to be considered a breach of their guidance. We also noted that several complainants had told us that they suffered symptoms associated with photo-sensitive epilepsy, including a seizure.”
But Ofcom (the UK’s FCC) experts said passing this test with the automated test equipment did not guarantee that an advert complied with the guidelines: “We therefore concluded that the ad had breached the code…The advert must not appear again in its current form.”
The makers of the test equipment who had approved the ad for screening have now introduced changes to prevent similar image sequences from being passed in future.