Warner Bros censured after IT horror film character appears on children's Spotify playlist

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by David Prior

A Warner Bros advert has been has been censured after an advert featuring the evil clown Pennywise appeared during a children's lullaby playlist on Spotify.

A listener complained after hearing the character, from Stephen King's horror film IT, between songs on the Classical Lullabies playlist.

Pennywise, voiced by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard, was heard to say: "For 27 years I dreamt of you. I craved you. Oh I missed you.” The words were followed by the sound of laughing clowns.

Warner Bros Entertainment UK was found in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) code, which told the entertainment company to ensure unsuitable ads did not appear in media designed for youngsters.

A ruling, published today, said: "The ad began with a cinematic drum noise and a crescendo of high-pitched percussive sound, which the ASA considered immediately created the feeling of suspense.

"The sound continued through the ad, while the voice of the film's villain Pennywise stated, 'For 27 years, I dreamt of you. I craved you' in a deep tone.

"He then shouted, 'Oh I missed you' in a loud and desperate manner as the ad built to a climax with a sharp snap of a second drum, at which point another of the film's characters stated 'Pennywise', and the sound of laughing clowns followed.

"We considered those elements meant the ad was likely to cause distress to young children, and that it should have been appropriately targeted to avoid the risk of them hearing it."

Warner Bros, which said the ad had been intended to attract users aged between 18 and 44, had used parameters in an attempt to ensure it was appropriately targeted.

The ASA's ruling added: "We told Warner Bros Entertainment UK Ltd to ensure that future ads that were unsuitable for children did not appear in media which was designed primarily for children."