The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau recently banned a Dead Island: Riptide television commercial due to complaints of its graphical content and depictions of suicide, Mumbrella reports.
Set to sorrowful music, the commercial features a couple inside a shipwrecked yacht that is surrounded by zombies. As the couple gaze into each other's eyes, they set off a gas explosion, killing themselves and the surrounding zombie horde. The camera then pans to the game's logo, which features a figure hanging from a palm tree by noose.
"I think that the ad is too graphic in terms of its depiction of suicide, particularly the final image of the man hanging from a tree," stated an example of complaints received by the ASB. "I think that this could be very traumatic for people who have experienced the suicide of a family member by hanging (or any other means)."
Distributor All Interactive Entertainment responded to the complaints, which is included in the ASB report, saying that while the implied death of the couple and the aggressive nature of the zombies are violent, the commercial is still "less violent than the potential alternative" and is "contextually relevant to the product being advertised." AIE's statement read:
"The first scene of the advertisement does imply the suicide of the protagonists; however this is implied rather than explicit, and is presented in a context readily recognisable as a fantasy i.e. an overwhelming zombie invasion. The scene does not imply that suicide is a viable option in a real world situation. I believe it is substantially dissociative and is unlikely to draw any parallels in the mind of anyone who has had the deep misfortune to have been affected by the suicide of a family member or friend."
AIE went on to say that the company disagrees that the zombie hanging from the palm implies or portrays suicide "in any fashion."
"I acknowledge the possibility that any portrayal of a body (even a silhouette) hanging by the neck may be unpleasant for a person who has recently experienced the suicide of a family member or friend, and am of course sympathetic to anyone who has been affected by suicide, but believe that the silhouette image does not represent violence out of context, or otherwise offend prevailing community standards."
The Board decided that the commercial breached the advertising Code and sided with the complaints. According to the report, AIE has replaced the advertisement with a new one and issued a critical response to the decision, begrudging the Board's opinion of the depicted suicide.
"AIE are disappointed that the Board has determined that a depiction of suicide in an overtly fantastical setting is an unjustifiable depiction of violence. Whilst real life suicide is of course a matter of grave concern in our communities we feel this ought not to bar the subject."
Watch the trailer below to see the scene for yourself. Dead Island: Riptide was released April 23 in North America and April 26 in Europe and Australia on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.