The British bookmaker Ladbrokes managed to avoid getting punished over a controversial advert by the country’s advertising regulator.
A complaint was filed to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) by a person who saw a paid-for Facebook post for the gambling operator on March 31st, 2021. The ad encouraged potential customers to play “the Goonies Jpk” at Ladbrokes and offered an incentive of more than 30 free spins after customers placed a £50 bet.
The complainant considered that the advert made a reference to the film “The Goonies”, which was why they believed the ad could have been found particularly appealing to individuals under the age of 18. That is why they challenged the advert for being socially irresponsible and asked the ASA to check whether it breached the Code or not.
Ladbrokes responded to the claims, saying that the advert had passed the company’s internal review process. As a response to the complaint, the controversial ad is no longer available on Facebook because the company removed it from there, as well as from the associated advertising campaigns and the gambling operator’s ad catalogue.
Furthermore, Ladbrokes explained that no characters or imagery from “The Goonies” had been used in the ad in question, and the Facebook post had been targeted at people aged 18 years old and over. Also, the gambling operator highlighted that the film was released in1985 and since then, no other film with this name has been released, so children in 2021 would not be acquainted with it.
Ladbrokes’ Facebook Ad Unlikely to Be Found Particularly Appealing by Children
The Advertising Standards Authority investigated the Facebook advert of Ladbrokes under the terms of the existing CAP Code. Under the provisions of the CAP Code, gambling operators are required not to release adverts and advertising materials that could be particularly appealing to underage individuals or young persons, especially by making associations with youth culture.
During the investigation process, the advertising regulatory body of the UK understood that the challenged Facebook post was not rolled out in an age-gated environment and the gambling operator made efforts to target the ad only at adults aged 18 years of age and older. Still, targeting of the advert was based on an audience that had reported their age for themselves, so there were no steps that could make sure that underage individuals who reported their age falsely, were not actually exposed to the advert. Despite that, the UK advertising watchdog has not found that the Facebook post of Ladbrokes could be of particular appeal to children, so it has not broken the CAP Code rules.
The challenged Facebook advert was investigated under CAP Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.12 associated with gambling but the Advertising Standards Authority did not find it in breach. Therefore, it ruled no further action was necessary on Ladbrokes’ part in regard to the advert.