Ads for PG-13 Movies in Kids' Media? Motion Picture Association Says for These Films, It's Fine

'No Violation of the Guidelines," MPAA Says

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Captain America
Captain America Credit: Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios

The Children's Advertising Review Unit today said it has referred ads for three movies from Paramount and Warner Bros. to the Motion Picture Association of America for review after determining the studios intentionally advertised movies rated PG-13 to children younger than 13.

The MPAA's reaction: No big deal.

CARU, the industry self-regulatory body that oversees marketing to children, said Paramount advertised the summer films "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Captain America" during "Hole in the Wall" on Cartoon Network at 7:30 p.m. Warner Bros. advertised "The Green Lantern" in SI Kids, a magazine CARU said is directed at children younger than 13.

The films got their MPAA ratings variously for language, sexuality, sexual innuendo and/or "intense sequences of sci-fi violence. "

When CARU monitoring finds PG-13 movies advertised to children younger than 13 accidentally, it asks studios to pull the ads from the media, the group said in a statement. But both Paramount and Warner Bros. said they'd placed the ads in those media intentionally, so under agreement with the MPAA, Caru referred the matter to the industry body for review.

CARU has singled out ads for a few PG-13 movies in media for younger children before, but it doesn't appear the MPAA has ever sanctioned a studio for such practices. Nor does it plan to do so this time.

No action is required in these cases, MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman said in an email, because "there was no violation of MPAA guidelines."

The group's Advertising Administration approves ads for films on "a case-by -case basis, taking various factors into consideration, including not only the rating of the motion picture, but its content, the content of the programming in which it will be placed and the time of day in which the ad is run," Mr. Gantman said.

The PG-13 rating is a "strong caution to parents that they should investigate the motion picture before taking their young children," he said, but doesn't "necessarily mean that the motion picture is inappropriate for children under 13."

Generally, he said, "a few PG-13-rated motion pictures are considered by the Advertising Administration to be compatible with children's programs" he said, based on the content of the movie, the ads and program where the ads run.

In other words, with a PG-13 rating, unlike an R rating, kids 12 and younger can just go in and buy tickets themselves if mom or dad drop them off at the cinema. And, at least in these particular cases, the MPAA thinks they can see ads for the movies, regardless of what CARU thinks.

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