The Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had one of its TV ad taken down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), after the regulator found out that a company’s TV ad seen in August 2017 breached the BCAP Code rules.
Two complainants challenged a Paddy Power TV advert seen in August 2017, saying that it was socially irresponsible, because it implied to customers that it was acceptable for them to place bets while at work. The TV commercial featured a bored casino security guard using his mobile phone to wager on the Paddy Power website. According to the complainants, the ad implied that gambling in the workplace was acceptable.
The Irish bookmaker responded to the complaints, saying that in its opinion it had not breached any rules of the BCAP Code. According to Paddy Power, the setting of the advert in a casino was due to the fact that the company offered online casino games. Furthermore, the company shared they had believed that exception of the BCAP Code rules in regards to gambling in a working environment applied, as the setting was a licensed gambling premise.
Paddy Power further claimed that the text of the TV commercial deliberately featured a line saying that the security guard picked up his mobile phone to place a bet when he was on his permitted break from work. The company protested against the accusations that the ad was socially irresponsible in any way or could lead to any social, financial or emotional harm to individuals.
On the other hand, the non-governmental organisation Clearcast, which pre-approves most UK television advertising, revealed that they advised the company and the advertiser that the commercial should make it very clear that the security guard featured in the advert gambled while on a break. Also, Clearcast said that they did not believe that the commercial showed excessive gambling and that they did not think the ad was socially irresponsible.
ASA Ruling and Actions
After investigating on the complaints, the Advertising Standards Authority came up with a ruling, according to which the TV advert of the company actually breached the BCAP Code rules 17.3.1 and 17.4.3 related to gambling.
The UK advertising regulatory body explained that an exception for gambling in the workplace truly existed for licensed gambling premises, and such was featured in the TV commercial of the brand, so it was acceptable for the ad to display a character placing a bet in their working environment. However, the ASA also shared that the purpose of BCAP Code rule 17.4.3 was to prevent such practices from becoming common ones, and the exception of the rule actually did not extend to permitting the depiction of staff members of licensed gambling premises gamble in their working environment.
Also, the Advertising Standards Authority shared that because the TV commercial of Paddy Power featured gambling activities in a workplace, which was banned under the rules of the BCAP Code, the gambling advertising watchdog considered it socially irresponsible. Therefore, it must not be aired in its current form any more.