If you’re a UK user of Spotify music service, you may have recently heard a commercial for “Taken 2” that included quotes pulled from a review in the British tabloid The Daily Star. “Eat your heart out Bond!” the ad raved, which also specifically mentioned a grade of “ten out of ten.” There was just one problem with the whole thing, according to an article published today in The Guardian: the quotes were completely made up. And now the ad has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority, a UK watchdog group.
Here, according to The Guardian, was “Taken 2” distributor 20th Century Fox’s defense against the charges, which surfaced after a complaint to the ASA:
“Fox said that a reviewer from the Daily Star had given permission to use the quotes, and provided the ASA with an email to prove this, but admitted that it often gets quotes before reviews are published.”
Contacting critics directly and asking for pull quotes would not be unusual studio behavior on either side of the Atlantic; we’ve covered that kind of thing on Criticwire before. Though it seems a bit absurd to cite “quotes” that don’t actually appear in the quoted critics’ reviews, it’s a more common practice than you’d think. The reason this ad was banned wasn’t because the Daily Star didn’t print the line “Eat your heart out Bond!” but because their piece on “Taken 2” wasn’t even a recommendation, much less a “ten out of ten” rave.
You can read the original review, by critic Andy Lea, here. A few actual pull quotes:
“On the evidence of this cheesy sequel, the 60-year-old action man is in danger of becoming the new Steven Seagal.”
“You need a couple of pints of strong lager inside you to swallow this underpowered nonsense.”
“Boring car chases and sub-Bourne fist fights filmed with a shaky camera.”
Lea’s piece isn’t a total dismissal. He declares one particular action sequence “bonkers but brilliant” and gave the film a “2/5” final verdict. Of course, that’s still a long way from a perfect score. Fox insisted they received the critic’s permission to use their quotes, and even had documentation to back that claim up, but the ASA concluded the consenting critic wasn’t the same one who wrote the Daily Star‘s review (i.e. Lea).
The lesson here, as always: pull quotes are to be trusted at your own peril.
[H/T Craig Skinner]