British betting operator Ladbrokes has found itself in hot water with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority over a recent TV commercial.
The ad in question ‘Where the Nation Plays’ aired on Channel Four’s video on demand service All 4 in October of 2020. In it, viewers see a group of people using their smartphones in a cafe.
The segment of the ad that the ASA took issue with showed a clip of a horse race before cutting to a man seemingly deep in thought. A voice over then says “Come starter’s orders, I’m a bag of nerves.” while viewers see the man’s leg shaking.
A woman then looks at the man and say’s “Really?” before the man is shown looking nervous again.
The ad received one complaint which argued that the ad depicted socially irresponsible gambling. The ASA upheld the complaint and ruled that in airing the ad, Ladbrokes was in breach of the Committee of Advertising Practice Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.1.
In their published assessment the ASA stated:
“Marketers should take care to avoid an implication of such behaviours, for instance, outwardly light-hearted or humorous approaches that could be regarded as portrayals of those behaviours.”
The ASA also noted that:
“Behaviours associated with people displaying or at risk from problem gambling included detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling.”
In response to the complaint, Channel Four stated that they felt the ad was not socially irresponsible nor would it cause financial, social, or emotional harm. They believed that the man showed signs of excitement that were not problematic as this was related the the build up to the race and not betting.
ASA disagreed and has now warned Ladbrokes and the Entain Group to be more mindful of their obligations and that any future ads must not depict a detachment from surroundings or any other socially irresponsible behaviour.
Image credit: Danrok / CC BY-SA 3.0