ASA bans Coral ad, but rejects complaint against Ladbrokes

2 June 2020

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned an ad from Coral, but rejected a complaint against its fellow GVC brand Ladbrokes.

The Coral complaint dealt with a Tweet from the operator’s account in March 2020 as part of its promotion for the Cheltenham Festival, which 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”. This was complemented by a video, captioned 'Have Another Go'.

The video included horses racing and text that read “Strong, fast, relentless, riderless” and a jockey about to fall off his horse. Text on screen and a voiceover then said “Get a free bet back with Fail to Finish, after which a previously disappointed man smiles.

A similar version of the video aired as a television advertisement.

A complainant challenged whether the advertisement was irresponsible.The operator said it did not believe this was the case and the promotion was merely a “form of insurance” on the bet that is common in the industry and not designed to encourage repetitive play. The operator pointed out that consumers did not have to take the offer up, nor did they have to pay to qualify.

Coral added that the text of the tweet “aimed to highlight the prize of the promotion, while keeping within a certain character count and without encouraging socially irresponsible behaviour”.

In addition, Coral said they would not use the ad or the 'Have Another Go' tagline again.

However, the ASA ruled the ad broke rule 16.3.1 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code), which states that advertisements must not “portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm”.

“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,” the ASA said.

The advertisement must not appear in its current form and the ASA warned Coral not to present their promotions in ways that were likely to encourage repetitive participation in gambling.

The ASA also rejected a complaint against a television ad for Ladbrokes, which aired on 29 February, 2020.

In the ad, characters take part in scenarios similar to casino games in their everyday lives, such as a man filling his car with petrol and stopping the price on £77.77; a woman spinning a circular wheel of red and black dresses; and a man saying, “hit me”, to request more fillings to be added to a sandwich.

Five viewers made complaints about the ad, arguing that it portrayed gambling as “taking priority in life”, which is specifically forbidden in rule 17.3.4 of the CAP code.

Ladbrokes, however, argued the ad was meant to “demonstrate the excitement of gaming in a metaphorical way which exaggerated real life” as part of a “fun parody”.

The operator said the analogies shown “did not suggest that gambling took precedence over the characters’ work or other daily activities” and pointed out that the gambling comparisons did not interrupt the characters’ routines.

“There was no reference to gambling or any suggestion that the characters would rather be gambling than undertaking their usual tasks,” Ladbrokes said.

Broadcast advertising watchdog Clearcast, which cleared the ad for television, said that although the characters saw gambling analogies while out and about, these were “not shown to get in the way of their lives and took no precedent” over other activities.

Clearcast said the gambling comparisons were “nothing more than humorous reminders of the mechanics and routines of gambling and gaming”. It believed the clear priorities for the characters were filling their car with fuel, choosing sandwich fillings and browsing dresses.

The ASA chose to agree with Ladbrokes and Clearcast’s assessments of the ad and reject the complaints.

“The ASA considered that while 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,” the ASA said. “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.”

In September 2019, Coral was sanctioned by the ASA for an ad promoting its “Bet and Get Club,” in which bettors can receive a free £5 bet for betting £25 during the previous week. The advertisement featured large text on screen reading, “Free £5 bet every Sunday when you bet £25+ Monday to Saturday.”

The ASA ruled that promoting the potential of a bonus every week encouraged players to gamble irresponsibly by increasing the frequency of their betting.

Last month, a study conducted by the ASA found that children’s exposure to gambling advertising has declined is falling back to 2008 levels, amid an overall decline in TV viewing among children