The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint against Platinum Gaming Ltd trading as Unibet, after judging an advert of the brand breached the CAP Code rules.
One complaint was filed against a tweet made through the official Twitter account of Nicky Henderson, a racecourse trainer, on October 27th. The tweet posted on the social network promoted a Unibet blog, with a link to the blog being included, too. The complainant challenged whether the tweet violated the CAP Code rules and shared their belief that the gambling operator had editorial control over the tweet.
The gambling company responded to the accusation, saying that in its opinion the tweet was not a type of marketing communication. Unibet further explained that a reciprocal arrangement existed between the company and Mr. Henderson, who was their brand ambassador, under which the racecourse trainer was required to post Unibet branding. The gambling operator, however, denied that it required from Mr. Handerson to tweet on their behalf and said that they did not have any editorial control over his Twitter account.
As explained by the gambling company, their agreement with Mr. Henderson required the racecourse trainer to have regular interviews with certain broadcasters regarding upcoming races, and these interviews were usually transcribed into a blog, links to which he shared via his social media accounts.
A copy of the brand’s contract with Mr. Henderson was provided by Unibet, with the agreement stating that the racecourse trainer was a paid ambassador of the brand and as such he had the obligation of allowing the gambling operator to manage his activity in the social media with his assistance throughout the term of the contract. The agreement also made it clear that as a brand ambassador, Mr. Henderson was required to start a twitter account which would be managed by the gambling company on his behalf.
Still, the company explained that the agreement with the racecourse trainer did not reflect the actual situation. The operator further claimed that the contract was a generic one that is used for all their ambassadors. Unibet further noted that Mr. Henderson already had a Twitter account at the time when the contract was inked.
ASA Recognises Racecourse Trainer’s Tweet as Marketing Content
The ASA investigated the issue and understood that the gambling operator and Mr. Henderson were thinking that the racecourse trainer’s posts in Twitter would be categorised as editorial content.
The advertising regulatory body first assessed the tweet to find out whether it was an editorial or marketing communication content. Considering the fact that Mr. Henderson was Unibet’s brand ambassador at the time under the contract he had with the company, he was obliged to take part in some activities, including posting tweets on his Twitter account. That is the reason why ASA believes that Mr. Henderson had been paid for promoting the gambling company.
The ASA also found that the Twitter account of Mr. Henderson was to be managed by Unibet as part of his contract as a brand ambassador. In addition, the terms of the agreement obliged him to keep his followers updated about his regular blog and make exclusive announcements about the company. The advertising regulatory body further noted that in this case, Unibet should have been given control over the content of tweets related to the above-mentioned blog.
Also considering the fact that the Twitter profile of Mr. Henderson stated that he was an ambassador of Unibet, it was hard for the ASA to make a clear differentiation between his posts used as marketing content and the ones which were not. The advertising regulatory body found that the tweet posted in Mr. Henderson’s account should have been identified as marketing communications and therefore breached rules 2.1. and 2.4 of the CAP Code, regarding recognition of marketing communications.
The ASA said that the ad must not appear in its current form any more. The regulator also said that future marketing communication posts of Unibet in its brand ambassador’s account should be identified as such.