In the United Kingdom, British Airways is reportedly facing a storm of criticism after running a television advertisement for its holidays business that detractors claim unfairly glamorizes gambling.
According to a Tuesday report from The Guardian newspaper, the spot for the flagship carrier’s British Airways Holidays arm features a couple returning to their hotel room through what appears to be a casino following a swim in a pool. The advert features commentary that claims the pair subsequently won $493 by putting ‘a bit of spare change’ into the slots before going on to describe the success as the ‘luckiest dip ever.’
Influential Conservative parliamentarian, Iain Duncan Smith, reportedly stated that he had been left ‘stunned’ by the ‘utterly appalling’ commercial before detailing that he would be discussing the matter with his colleagues. In addition, the newspaper detailed that a cross-party group of politicians led by Labour’s Carolyn Harris is soon expected to pen a letter to British Airways condemning its actions in ‘glamorizing’ gambling.
Responsible message missing:
The Guardian reported that the spot appeared only weeks after the nation’s gambling industry responded to worries concerning the impact of its ads on vulnerable people and children by agreeing to abide by stricter advertising rules. Marc Etches, Chief Executive for the United Kingdom’s GambleAware independent responsible gambling charity, purportedly expressed unease about the controversial commercial’s lack of a required message concerning the downsides of wagering.
Etches to The Guardian…
“With 370,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain it is vital that we recognize gambling for the public health issue it is. The consequences of problem gambling can be devastating for individuals and families alike and companies need to recognize their responsibility to make sure people are aware of the risks of gambling.”
For its part, British Airways reportedly told the newspaper that the advert ‘is one of a series’ that it has broadcast over the course of the past three years and has been designed to promote ‘a range of special memories’ patrons of its British Airways Holidays business ‘experience when they travel with us every year.’
British Airways to The Guardian…
“The advert was cleared with the industry body, Clearcast, ensuring it is appropriate for broadcast.”