A Mobile Strike advert has been banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for objectifying women. The advert features several women in bikinis playing the military-themed mobile game by the pool.
This is not the first time that the group has had to weigh in on video game matters, as the ASA also stepped in last year to rule that an ad for PC and PS4 exploration game No Man’s Sky was not misleading.
Mobile Strike Ad Objectifies Women – ASA
The ASA says that it received one complaint about the advertisement (seen above) which was uploaded last year. It explains that “The complainant challenged whether the ad was offensive, because they believed it objectified women.”
Mobile Strike developer, Machine Zone, disagreed with this though and said that the women were in bathing suits “because of the setting” and that “the juxtaposition between what people normally did by the pool (i.e. relax and lounge) with the visuals of the players battling it out with jets and tanks was what made the ad so striking.”
Not only does the developer point out that its own players haven’t complained about the advert (YouTube also says it doesn’t violate its advertising policies), but it feels that the person who made the complaint only has an “objection” to the size of the women (which it says are “real-sized”) as opposed to “what they were wearing or doing in the ad.”
Unfortunately for Machine Zone, the ASA decided to uphold the ruling on the Mobile Strike ad, explaining that in some of the scenes the “mannerisms of the women were seductive or sexually-charged.”
For example, in one scene, a woman wearing a thong bikini was seen walking towards a sun lounger and the camera angle was taken from below and behind so that as she walked into the scene, only her legs and her thong bikini bottoms were in view. We noted that another scene featuring one of the women wearing a swimsuit was shot in slow motion, and the emphasis was on her body rather than the mobile game app she was playing. One of the camera angles was shot side-on which highlighted her waist and chest. As she approached the camera, she flicked her hair back, stopped and looked seductively into the camera.
Though the ASA does recognise that the advert features plus-sized models, it considers this fact to be “irrelevant” and still deems that the ad objectifies women. It has ruled that “The ad must not appear again in its current form.” and it has also told the Mobile Strike developer “to ensure that its ads in future did not objectify women and cause offence.”
Unsurprisingly, the reaction to the news has people divided. While it is nice to see the diversity of models, something which even games about models have been known to get wrong, many argue that the use of plus-sized models doesn’t make the advert empowering by default. The women are still sexualised and the ad has been made for the male gaze; it’s not exactly body positive if those bodies are only seen positively because they’re desired and lusted after, is the feeling from some.
Others say that the ad doesn’t objectify women at all (or as much as other ads) and some only dislike the advert because it does a poor job of explaining what the game is like (in comparison to other Mobile Strike ads that feature Arnold Schwarzenegger). But regardless of these opinions, Machine Zone will have to err on the side of caution in future and think more carefully about how it presents women in tis ads if it is to avoid the ASA’s wrath.