An October social media “brand engagement piece” from Ladbrokes has caused the ASA to issue a warning to the sports betting, bingo, and casino operator. The ad, which appeared on Twitter in October 2022, was deemed to be “irresponsible” as it was likely to have had “strong appeal” to under-18s.
More about the offending Ladbrokes ad
The Twitter ad appeared on the social media site as a promoted tweet in October 2022, and it featured the text, “Can these big summer signings make the question marks over their performances go away?”. Beneath the text, there was an embedded video showing three footballers from the UK Premier League (Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Nottingham Forest’s Jesse Lingard, and Aston Villa’s Philippe Coutinho) along with the Ladbrokes logo.
The ASA’s decision and reasoning
The Advertising Standards Agency took Ladbrokes to task over the tweet as it was concerned that such well-known footballers would attract the attention of minors.
The CAP code states that gambling-related marketing communications must not “be of strong appeal to children or young persons”. It also states that ads must not include characters or people whose example is likely to be followed by under-18s.
As many youngsters enjoy watching and playing football, the use of Premier League footballers in marketing communications is deemed high-risk. Therefore, the ASA ruled that as the promoted Ladbrokes tweet did not exclude under-18s from the audience, it was “irresponsible and breached the Code” and must not be displayed again in its current form.
What does Ladbrokes have to say on the matter?
Ladbrokes’ response to the ASA investigation claimed that the “in-house” ad was intended as “a brand engagement piece” rather than an ad as it did not include any links to the Ladbrokes website, nor any special offers or calls to action.
The company added that its marketing team had referred to CAP Code guidance while creating the tweet and accompanying video and had used Twitter’s targeting and age verification tools in an attempt to prevent the ad from appearing in the news feed of under-18s. Ladbrokes also obtained ad tracking data from Twitter showing that 0% of the targeted audience was under the age of 20.