Not everyone might realise it, but social platforms like Instagram and TikTok are now viewed as nothing more than even more advertising channels, just like ITV, Channel 4 and the rest of the TV world.
This became even more evident this week when the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) upheld two (yes just two) complaints that a particular Mecca Bingo ad on its Instagram account ‘suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem’ and therefore breached code and was irresponsible.
What caused all the fuss?
To most of us the post appears harmless enough. It was two images of Baga Chipz, a Before and After it you will. The first showed her not smiling, with no make-up and in dowdy, drab clothes. The second showed her in full drag regalia, fully made up and unmistakably happy.
The text read, “Before playing Mecca Bingo vs after playing Mecca Bingo”.
The post caption read, “A good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow. Over 18s only. BeGambleAware.org. DrinkAware.co.uk. Ts&Cs apply. #letsplaymeccabingo #meccabingo #winning #bingo #winningfeeling #feelinggood #bagachipz”.
In brief, Mecca said the purpose of the ad was to convey that their services were fun and entertaining, highlighted by the use of well-known entertainer, the drag queen Baga Chipz, who Mecca Bingo regularly work closely with.
They said the use of the “before and after” metaphor and the reference to having a “post bingo glow” – not related to winning. This defence fell down slightly thanks to the hashtags that did refer to winning!
Why it was deemed irresponsible
The before image was not just one of boredom, but that it represented blankness, lack of emotion and disinterest.
The after image conveyed a high level of confidence and enhanced self-image, thanks to the inclusion of the champagne and the full sparkly outfit, jewellery and make-up.
The ruling stated, ‘We still considered the overall impression of the ad, particularly through the contrasting images, suggested gambling could improve an individual’s self-image or self-esteem.’
Mecca must not use the ad again in its original form and must avoid future marketing conveying playing can enhance self-image and self-esteem.