Ladbrokes, one of the Entain brands, is the first operator to experience the consequences of the new UK Advertising Standards Authority’s laws. The law is related to the ads that have a “strong appeal” to children.
Ad for adults:
The banned ad features many famous Premier League footballers. The ad was launched in October when the company shared a video reel of footballers Philippe Coutinho, Jesse Lingard, and Kalidou Koulibaly on Twitter. The video has been followed by the words: “Can these big summer signings make the question marks over their performances go away?”
Recently, the regulations for gambling ads weren’t that strict. The only problem was if they had a “particular appeal” to children, meaning that an appeal to children wasn’t proportional to the one to adults. In 2022, the Committee of Advertising Practice and ASA decided that gambling ads shouldn’t have “strong appeal” to children. In practice, it means that every ad that is proven to appeal to a number of children needs to be banned – this time, its appeal to adults doesn’t matter.
Premier League players aren’t supposed to be included in gambling ads – an exception could be made for the adult audience only. Still, overall, celebrities aren’t supposed to appear in these ads.
Football is an activity in which many minors are included or even directly participate, and that’s why Premier League footballers are considered a significant risk.
Rules were incorporated – but it wasn’t enough:
Ladbrokes commented on this issue, saying that the company “carefully incorporated” all of the rules. They claimed that they had already considered the risk of appealing to children, but the company said it “made use of all available targeting and age-gating tools” to make sure only adults would see the ad.
The company targeted people who were 25 years or older, and the analytics showed that none of the minors had seen the ad. However, the complaint hasn’t been withdrawn. ASA’s argument is that Twitter age verification isn’t good enough so that the ad won’t be run anymore.
The ASA stated: “We considered that it would have been acceptable for the ad to appear in a medium where under-18s, for all intents and purposes, could be entirely excluded from the audience. That would apply in circumstances where those who saw the ad had been robustly age-verified as being 18 or older, such as through marketing lists that had been validated by payment data or credit checking.
“We did not consider that marketing data inferred from user behavior met that threshold.”
The main problem is the fact that Twitter users verify their own ages, so the results aren’t reliable. ASA thinks it isn’t enough – the ad audience probably included a number of minors, and the content definitely isn’t for them.