Sony drops advert after 'drugs' link

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SONY has announced that it is to pull an advertisement for a new snowboarding game after complaints that its references to "powder" could be interpreted as extolling drug use.

More than 10 people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the advert which appeared on posters and its own PlayStation magazine. Objections were raised to phrases in the advert such as "Powder, I need powder. My body yells, aches, screams for powder" and "when I'm on it I get a rush, a buzz, the blood coursing through my veins. I get really high".

Sony Computer Entertainment insisted the advert was written in the language of snowboarders and was not meant to refer to illegal drugs in any way.

However, the company decided to drop the advert rather than risk offending any more people. In a statement issued yesterday, it said: "The advertising is written in snowboarder parlance and is meant to reflect the adrenaline rush of the sport. We now understand that some people perceive it contains references to drugs."

The Advertising Standards Authority welcomed the company's prompt action and said it would be investigating all the complaints. A spokesman said: "Our research has shown that the public is very concerned about the use of drug imagery in advertising."

More than one-third of teenagers are lured into experimenting with cigarettes by tobacco advertising and promotion, researchers say.

The power of advertising in recruiting young smokers is demonstrated by a study of American adolescents between 1993 and 1996 which found that teenagers who noticed cigarette adverts or acquired a promotional item were much more likely to take up smoking than others.