In a recent official press release, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) revealed that the renowned gambling brand Ladbrokes failed to adhere to the latest gambling guidelines by promoting a tweet that had the potential to appeal to minors.
Protecting the younger populace
As per the updated guidelines, brands are strictly forbidden from employing any marketing strategies that might entice minors, including those on social media platforms.
In February, Ladbrokes posted a tweet that caught the attention of the ASA as it featured a picture of the popular YouTuber and boxer, Jake Paul. What made the tweet problematic was its timing, as it was shared just a day after Tommy Fury emerged victorious in a boxing match against Paul.
The tweet’s caption read: “@TommyTNTFury beat @JakePaul by split decision last night. So, we’ve got to ask the question… What’s next for Jake Paul? Vote here now.”
Ladbrokes argued that the advertisement was intended for users aged 25 and older, and it garnered 16,494 impressions. Among the total impressions, individuals between the ages of 20 and 29 accounted for 47.1%.
The Committee of Advertising Practice’s (CAP) Code is crystal clear: all marketing communications must be targeted exclusively at adults, and any promotion that might possibly appeal to minors is strictly prohibited.
New guidelines and old offenses
The updated guidelines were introduced in October 2022, and Ladbrokes happened to be among the first companies to violate them. The previous violation occurred in December when a similar tweet was published. That particular tweet featured football stars Philippe Coutinho, Jesse Lingard, and Kalidou Koulibaly, and it was banned for the same reason as the recent one.
Considering that Twitter is a platform frequented by individuals under the age of 18, there is a possibility that minors might have come across the advertisement despite Ladbrokes’ efforts. One can argue that the inclusion of Jake Paul in the tweet could make it appealing to young people, given his popularity as a YouTuber and former Disney star, in addition to his boxing career. However, Ladbrokes claims that they thoroughly assessed Jake Paul’s follower demographics and previous partnerships and sponsorships before sharing the tweet.
The ASA has made significant efforts to restore trust in advertisements. In a research study conducted in January, which involved 2,983 adults from the UK, the results were promising: a whopping 80% of participants expressed that they now have more faith in ads since the regulatory changes and the launch of a new campaign. Furthermore, a report released by the ASA and Advertising Association (AA) in May indicated that 50% of individuals who had seen the campaign were more receptive to ads in general.
Stephen Woodford, CEO of the AA, emphasized the importance of the public’s trust in advertising, stating, “The public is our most important customer, and we are committed to taking long-term action to rebuild the public’s trust in advertising.”
In an ever-evolving landscape of regulations and public sentiment, the responsibility lies with brands like Ladbrokes to ensure that their advertising efforts align with the guidelines and prioritize the protection of minors.
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