TV ad for The Snowman gets pre-watershed ban after parents' complaints

A creepy TV advert for murder mystery movie The Snowman has been banned from being shown before the 9pm watershed because it frightened children.

Five parents complained to watchdogs that the ad - Including scenes of a dismembered body being discovered, a woman getting her leg caught in a bear trap, and an image of a severed head - was "unsuitable" to be shown before 9pm.

The ad, which was broadcast in September and October, was found to be in breach of rules regarding children, and the scheduling of television adverts following an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority.

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The trailer for the film, starring Michael Fassbender and Charlotte Gainsbourg, was banned from being shown again before 9pm.

Clearcast, which pre-approves most TV advertising, said it should only have been shown after 7.30pm

They said the shot of a dismembered body was 'very brief' – less than a second in duration – and the body itself was quite a distance away, taking up less than a tenth of the screen, and there was no gore.

But an ASA spokesman said: "We noted the ad contained a number of threatening scenes in which people were shown, or appeared, to be in distress, and bloody gory imagery of dismembered body parts and a severed head.

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"While brief, the combination of the frightening images in succession created an overall sense of escalating fear and menace.

"We did not agree that there was respite from such imagery, and believed that the effect was to build rather than reduce suspense.

"We considered the content of the ad was frightening and gruesome to the extent that it was unsuitable for children and younger teenagers.

"We therefore concluded that, to minimise the risk of children seeing it, the ad should have been given a 9 pm timing restriction."

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Universal Pictures, which released the film, said they requested the campaign agency to target the ad at an audience of adults aged 25 to 54.

The studio added that due to the timing of the release of the film, the campaign had run in full and they had no plans to make use of the ad in future.