ASA pulls ‘irresponsible’ Coral tweet as Ladbrokes ad cleared

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has pulled an advertisement from Coral after the advert was deemed ‘irresponsible’.

An ad from Ladbrokes was cleared by the ASA, despite receiving five complaints suggesting it encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.

The advertising watchdog upheld one complaint issued against a post on Coral’s Twitter page after a challenge was raised concerning irresponsibility, and warned that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

A Tweet on Coral’s Twitter page, seen in March 2020, featured the text ‘We’re as passionate about the bet as you are. So, get your stake back as a free bet if your horse fails to finish. #CoralRacing 18+, T&C’s Apply’.

A link to a video ad was captioned ‘Have another go’ and began with horses racing and superimposed text which stated ‘STRONG, FAST, RELENTLESS, RIDERLESS’.

The scene then featured a jockey about to fall off his horse. Further text stated ‘GET A FREE BET BACK WITH FAIL TO FINISH’ while a voiceover repeated it.

A man watching looked disappointed until he looked at his phone and smiled. The voiceover stated ‘For the passion of the bet: Coral Racing’.

Addressing the complaint, Coral emphasised that the ‘Fail to Finish’ promotion did not encourage repeated or socially irresponsible gambling, reiterating that ‘consumers were not obliged to take up the offer and did not have to use additional funds to qualify for the offer if they decided to have another go’.

The firm ‘did not consider that the ad applied undue pressure to place another bet or encouraged gambling any more than what a consumer would normally gamble’.

The ASA understood the ad promoted a ‘Fail to Finish’ offer which gave consumers a free bet token matching their bet value up to £10 in the event that their horse failed to finish. We acknowledged that the promotion did not oblige consumers to take up the offer and that consumers did not have to use additional funds to qualify for the offer.

“However, we considered that the claim ‘Have another go’, together with the video ad which featured a man whose mood was instantly lifted following a free bet back, gave the impression that the decision to gamble had been taken lightly and was therefore likely to encourage some consumers to take up the offer repetitively. For that reason, we concluded that the ad was likely to encourage gambling behaviour that was potentially harmful and therefore breached the code.”

But despite five individuals submitting a complaint against a Ladbrokes advert, the ASA cleared the advert, concluding it ‘did not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible’.

The Ladbrokes ad, seen on February 29, 2020, featured a man filling his car up with petrol while a voiceover stated ‘It’s all about getting them to line up’.

The ad showed the price of the petrol which stopped at ‘£77.77’ after which the man said ‘Yes’. The ad then featured a man who was ordering a sandwich. The man twice said, ‘Hit me’ after which a further filling was added to the sandwich, the man then said, ‘When the time is right, I like to double down. Hit me’.

The ad then featured a woman in a clothes shop who said: ‘There are few things more exciting than a spinning wheel. I’m going for red, definitely red. OK black’ while she spun a circular clothing rail which contained alternating red and black clothes.

Five complainants, who believed the ad showed people who were addicted to gambling taking part in scenarios which mimicked gambling as part of their everyday lives, challenged whether the ad breached the code by portraying gambling as taking priority in life.

In its response, Ladbrokes highlighted that the advert was intended to show the excitement of gaming in a metaphorical way which exaggerated real life, with analogies not suggesting that gambling took precedence over the characters’ work or other daily activities.

Publishing its assessment in clearing the ad, the ASA stated: “The ad presented three characters engaging in everyday tasks and real-life scenarios that appeared to remind them of different online casino games: a slot machine; blackjack game; and roulette wheel.

“The ASA considered that whilst the characters were depicted as momentarily reminded of gambling and engaged in that analogy of the situation, they were not so distracted that they didn’t continue with those tasks.

“We also considered that the brief scenarios depicted did not present gambling as indispensable or imply that it took priority in any aspect of the characters’ lives. We therefore concluded that the ad did not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, or portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life.”

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