Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and LC International Limited
Where: United Kingdom
When: 3 June 2020
Law stated as at: 9 June 2020
The UK’s ASA has banned an ad from Coral, a brand owned by LC International Limited, but rejected a complaint against Coral’s sister brand Ladbrokes. The Coral ad promoted a “fail to finish” offer as part of the promotion for the Cheltenham Festival, which encouraged punters to “have another go” for free if their horse failed to finish the race.
Coral responded to the complaint by stating that the promotion was merely a “form of insurance”, common in the industry and not designed to encourage irresponsible repetitive play. However, the ASA considered that the ad, which featured a disappointed character having their mood instantly lifted by making a bet, was irresponsible and encouraged consumers to take gambling lightly, in breach of CAP code rule 16.3.1.
The ASA also rejected a complaint against a Ladbrokes TV ad, which aired on 29 February 2020.
In the ad, characters took part in scenarios where they were reminded of casino games, such as a man filling his vehicle with petrol and stopping the price at £77.77, and a woman spinning a circular wheel of red and black dresses.
Five complaints were received about the ad, suggesting that it presented gambling as taking priority in life, in breach of CAP code rule 17.3.4. Ladbrokes responded to the complaints, arguing that the ad was meant as a “fun parody”, and “did not suggest that gambling took precedence over the characters’ work or other daily activities”.
The broadcast advertising watchdog, Clearcast, which cleared the ad for television, said that although the characters in the ad saw gambling analogies in their activities, these were “not shown to get in the way of their lives”.
The ASA considered that whilst the characters in the advertisement were being reminded of gambling in analogous situations, they were not so distracted that they didn’t continue with their tasks.
Why this matters:
These rulings by the ASA provide useful context to the CAP code’s gambling rules, and where the ASA sees the boundary for acceptable content. The analogies in Ladbrokes’ ad between daily activities and gambling mechanics were on the humorous side of this boundary, whereas Coral’s character, whose mood was shown to be influenced by his gambling, was irresponsible in the eyes of the ASA. Gambling advertisers will no doubt find the ASA’s views on this subject helpful when putting together ads in the future.