US retailer Wish.com and publishers Zynga and Ketchapp have been reprimanded following the appearance of an advert for a penis extender in a number of mobile apps on November 26th 2017.
The ad “featured an animated image of a penis above a second animated image of an extender strap being applied to the penis”. It was being sold by Wish.com.
The ad went live in Ketchapp’s 2048, Zynga’s Crazy Cake Swap, and Peel Smart Remote.
The main thrust of the issue was whether the ads were responsibly targeted, given the games are likely to have children playing them.
The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints it had received, ruling the ad had been placed “irresponsibly”.
"Not aimed at children"
Zynga and Wish.com parent company ContextLogic did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries. Peel meanwhile acknowledged the complaint but, according to the ASA, “did not provide a substantive response to our enquiries”.
Ubisoft-owned mobile publisher Ketchapp claimed that while 2048 has PEGI 3 rating on Google Play, the game was “not aimed at children” due to the “mental calculation” required to play it.
It added it had no control over what ads were served to players and that the responsibility should be with the advertiser to ensure such content is suitable for audiences.
The publisher did though say it would now increase the age rating of all Ketchapp games to 12 years-plus and has “adapted processes to ensure that the content of the ads were better aligned with the age rating of the app”. At the time of writing 2048 is still certified with a PEGI 3 rating.
The ASA was unconvinced by Ketchapp's claims the game was not for children and said the game was likely to have broad appeal, so ads should be suitable for children. It also noted concern over the lack of response from the other companies.
The organisation said the ads must not appear again to inappropriate audiences. The ASA’s powers however are limited to take action much further, and it cannot impose any fines.