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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 07:11 GMT
Film firm rapped over Cruise ad
Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton in Minority Report
Dialogue from the film is heard on the phone message
Film studio Twentieth Century Fox has been rapped by watchdogs for a sending out a "menacing" voicemail advert featuring the voice of actor Tom Cruise.

The criticism of the company's home entertainment arm, which sent out the promos to mobile phones, came from the Advertising Standards Authority.

It received 18 complaints from people who were sent the message advertising the video and DVD release for Cruise's recent blockbuster Minority Report.

The message used a short clip from the film beginning with a man's voice drawing breath before Cruise asks: "Where's my Minority Report?".

Sales pitch

Then he screams: "Do I even have one?". Moments later a woman's voice replies: "No".

Only at the end of the clip does the message reveal itself by stating: "Don't miss out on your Minority Report. Buy it now on DVD and video."

Complainants said they found the advert "offensive" and felt it could have caused distress by not making it clear it was a promotion.

Tom Cruise
Minority Report has been released for home viewing

Others objected to having to pay to collect an answer phone message which turned out to be bogus.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment explained the message had been sent only to people who registered their contact details on the company's website and asked for information about film and DVD releases.

It said the people targeted would have known the film and would "be familiar with Tom Cruise's voice".

'Desperate measure'

The message was sent on a Monday morning which, the company said, would "minimise the risk of people having to retrieve the message because most people had their mobile phones switched on at that time."

But the ASA upheld the complaints.

It said consumers "would not necessarily immediately recognise the voice as being Tom Cruise's", thought the message could be seen as "menacing" and might "cause serious or widespread offence".

The advert had earlier been criticised by marketing expert Charlie McKelvey, editor of Precision Marketing who said it seemed like a "desperate" measure by Fox to promote the film.

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