ASA clears Ladbrokes for ‘Goonies’ themed slot ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has decided not to uphold a complaint against Ladbrokes relating to a new slot game themed around the 1980s film The Goonies.

In a paid-for Facebook post for Ladbrokes, seen on 31 March, the slot in question was advertised with the statement ‘Play The Goonies Jpk at Ladbrokes. Get 30+ Free Spins on top of your £50’.

Featured below the statement was a nautical map with text reading ‘The Goonies’ along with images of golden doubloons and a ‘Jackpot King’ logo.

The complainant believed that the reference to the film The Goonies would be of appeal to those under the age of 18, and challenged that the ad was in violation of the ASA’s CAP Code. 

In its assessment of the complaint, the ASA acknowledged that although The Goonies was initially marketed to the under-18 demographic upon its release in 1985, the film now has a strong cult following among adults who viewed the film as children.

Additionally, as the film was not a current or recent release, it would not be widely recognised or understood by children, and so the ad could not be classified as promoting gambling to under-18s. 

This point was also reiterated by Ladbrokes in its defence of the ad, stating that the post did not contain any imagery or characters from The Goonies, whilst also noting that the ad would not resonate with children in 2021 due to the film’s 1985 release date.

The Entain-owned operator added that the post was targeted at males and females over 18 years of age and had been deliberated in an internal review process, but had been removed from Facebook, associated ad campaigns and the firm’s ad catalogue following the complaint.

Agreeing with Ladbrokes remarks, the ASA also noted that the ad did not include any characters or imagery from the film whilst the nautical map and golden doubloons included were not colourful, cartoonish or ‘presented in a way that was likely to resonate with children, and were more likely to have a general or adult appeal’.

The decision follows a recent CAP consultation on further tightening of the rules around the content and targeting of gambling ads, with particular regards to the appeal of gambling ads to under-18s and other vulnerable groups.

Furthermore, the Authority recently released its exposure report on age-restricted TV advertising, revealing that children’s exposure to gambling content increased from 2.5 ads-per-week prior to the UK entering COVID-19 lockdowns to 4.0 ads-per-week.

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