The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has referred advertising for three separate movies – Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Green Lantern, and Captain America: The First Avenge – as part of its routine monitoring practices.

CARU said that Transformers and Captain America, both films rated PG-13, aired television advertising during Hole in the Wall, a show on the Cartoon Network that airs at 7:30 p.m. Transformer received its rating for “intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action, violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo,” while Captain America received its rating for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.”

The airing of both commercials “raised concerns regarding the appropriateness of advertising a film rated PG-13 to children,” the panel said.

In addition, Green Lantern cosponsored a “Got Milk?” ad that appeared in the August 2011 issue of SI Kids magazine, a publication intended for children under 13 years of age. Green Lantern received its PG-13 rating for “intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.”

Looking to Section 5 of the CARU Guidelines’ Core Principles, CARU emphasized that “Products and content inappropriate for children should not be advertised directly to them,” and that under Section (i) of the General Guidelines, “Advertisers should take care to ensure that only age-appropriate videos, films and interactive software are advertised to children, and if an industry rating system applies to the product, the rating label is prominently displayed.”

Because all three advertisements were intentionally placed, CARU referred the ads to the Motion Picture Association of America for further review.

To read the press release about Captain America, click here.

To read the press release about Green Lantern, click here.

To read the press release about Transformers, click here.

Why it matters: Under the terms of an agreement with the MPAA, CARU will ask an advertiser to pull an ad for a film rated PG-13 that was inadvertently placed during children’s programming. If the advertiser complies, the inquiry by CARU is closed. But where the placement of the ad was intentional – as it was in the three movie advertisements – CARU refers the matter to the MPAA for a determination of whether the film, despite its rating, is appropriate to be advertised to children.