The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that a paid-for Facebook advert for Football INDEX – Bet & Trade, seen on May 20th 2019, promoted a gambling application.
The advert’s text mentioned the young English professional football player Jadon Sancho, explaining that he was the third most valuable player in the football stockmarket. Also, a list with the names, pictures and “Buy” and “Sell” values of many football players, including Sancho, was displayed.
We've published our latest batch of rulings https://t.co/dbGYsX8oPm Amongst this week's cases, we examine claims that a chocolate could slow down the ageing process and found a gambling firm irresponsibly featured under-25s (footballers) in its ad. pic.twitter.com/aXT2Y1p2wf
— ASA (@ASA_UK) August 21, 2019
A complaint to the ASA was filed by one individual who noted that the advert featured football players who were under 25 years of age. The complainant claimed that the ad was violating the Code because it was irresponsible.
BetIndex Objects That the Ad Did Not Depict Any Player Gambling
In its response to the claims, BetIndex shared it was its belief that Jadon Sancho played a major role in the advert and pledged to make sure that no players under 25 years of age would be displayed in similar ads in the future.
BetIndex also explained that the use of young players’ pictures, including the ones of Sancho, Kylian Mbappe, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Calum Hudson-Odoi were only used to demonstrate the functional features provided by the platform and would not be present in the real application.
In addition, they further noted that the advert did not have the intention to draw out the attention to one specific player and reminded that the ad did not depict any player gambling. Nevertheless, the advert had been withdrawn, and the operator promised to make sure its staff receives relevant training in terms of their responsibility under the provisions of the CAP Code. The training would especially focus on the use of professional athletes under 25 years of age in such ads, too.
ASA Says the Ad Breaches CAP Code Rules
The Advertising Standards Authority explained that under the provisions of the CAP Code, individuals under 25 years of age are allowed to be featured in marketing materials which advertised betting services that could be used directly through a transactional facility, including a gambling operator’s own website. Also, the depictions used must show such individuals not in a gambling context but in the context of the bet.
As the UK advertising regulator has understood, the intention of the advert was to illustrate the nature of the gambling application and the options it provided its customers with. However, the ASA also considered that the advert was equally aimed at offering the viewers a chance to use the application for the purposes of gambling. The regulatory body considered that all listed football players were sharing an equally important role in the advert.
The ASA does not believe that Jadon Sancho’s role in the ad was more significant in comparison to any of the other players displayed in the marketing communication. The advert, however, had not been displayed on the advertiser’s own website and the football players listed had not been used to illustrate specific betting selections. This is the reason why the Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the advert was irresponsible and breached the Code.
As the ASA ruled, the ad violated the CAP Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.14 associated with gambling. The regulator also said that the advert must not be displayed in the form complained of any more.