The ASA announced that it upheld a complaint against Ladbrokes over a TV ad, aired back in October 2020. According to the advertising regulator, the ad broke CAP Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.1. Consequently, the ASA warned the operator.
The ASA Finds Depicted Gambling Behavior in a TV Ad
The Advertising and Standards Authority in the U.K. announced today that it upheld a complaint against Ladbrokes regarding a TV advertisement seen on All4 back in October 2020. The ad in question was a part of Entain’s “Where the Nation Plays” titled “The Racers“. It involved people who were using the operator’s app on their mobile devices. After one of the scenes showed a horse race clip, one of the individuals participating in the ad was presented as a very tense man. While sitting in a café, the man was nervous and his leg shaking made the food and cutlery on the dining table shake as well. A voice-narrator then says: “Come starter’s orders, I’m a bag of nerves.“
According to the advertising regulator, the ad “depicted gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible”. Furthermore, the Authority cited the CAP Code which states that ads “must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm“.
However, Ladbrokes argued saying that the character participating in the ad was waiting for the race to start. Furthermore, the company outlined that the person was not seen placing a bet. The operator deemed the nerves before a sporting event as “normal emotions“. Another point that Ladbrokes raised is that there was no indication about gambling harm or distresses. Instead, according to the operator, the man from the ad was just emotional before the start of the race.
The UK Advertising Regulator Upholds Its Decision
Before casting, the ad was cleared by the clearing agency Clearcast. The agency argued that the man in the café was excited and was waiting for a TV race to begin. With that in mind, the TV show wasn’t shown, but according to Clearcast “it was strongly implied“. Clearcast also stressed that the individual might have been showing an annoying habit, but he wasn’t “harmfully obsessed with his bet”. Channel Four’s position was similar to the one by Clearcast.
After further assessment of the complainant’s challenge, the ASA announced that it upheld its judgment. The Authority concluded that the ad depicted gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible and breached the CAP Code.
Furthermore, it clarified that CAP Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.1 were breached. Consequently, the ASA urged Ladbrokes to ensure that “future ads did not depict gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible, such as detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling”.