Paramount's "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" may have become a $73 million hit for the studio this winter, but the ad industry's self-regulatory group decided the film's marketing might trick some fans into thinking the pop star himself might turn up at their screening.
The Children's Advertising Review Unit, a division of the Council of Better Business Bureau, recommended that Paramount Pictures modify or discontinue a 60-second TV spot that featured a surprise appearance from the singer at a Los Angeles movie theater, accompanied by the statement, "This could happen in your theater."
Although Justin Bieber did in fact make unannounced appearances at several L.A.-area movie theaters shortly after the film's February release, CARU found that the ads could deceptively imply that the singer would make appearances in other cities as well. The spot aired during children's programming, but the messaging was used in only one of 32 different TV ads used by the studio to promote the film, representing less than 1% of the total broadcast buy for the film.
"Advertising should be neither deceptive nor unfair, as these terms are applied under the Federal Trade Commission Act, to the children to whom it is directed," CARU said in its four-page decision document.
In a statement, the studio said, "Paramount Pictures respectfully disagrees with the final case decision for reasons set forth in its response letter to CARU. Nevertheless, the commercial is no longer running and will not be used again."
CARU has previously criticized the film industry for marketing PG-13 films to children under 12, and issued a report to the Motion Picture Association of America in 2008 about films with inappropriate marketing practices.