Ladbrokes Gets Slap on the Wrist Over Betting Tweets
Sports betting operator Ladbrokes has received a light slap on the wrist from the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The advertising watchdog isn’t happy with some of the posts the company put on Twitter, but avoided handing it a fine.
The ASA implemented stricter guidance for gaming-related ads and public dissemination of information in October. That same month, Ladbrokes had a couple of tweets that ran afoul of the new guidance.
Specifically, the ASA doesn’t want operators using the images of well-known athletes or other prominent figures to push their services. The watchdog said in its ruling against Ladbrokes that tweets using three popular soccer players violated this restriction.
Ladbrokes Gets Crafty
In the tweets, Ladbrokes turned to Premier League players Philippe Coutinho, Jesse Lingard and Kalidou Koulibaly to support its cause. The trio comprised a video that, while not overtly pushing sports betting, left little doubt of the tweets’ meaning.
As a result, the ASA determined that the presence of the elite soccer players represented a threat to responsible gambling. The tweets could be seen by teenagers under 18 years of age, which violates the new standards the entity established in October.
Ladbrokes tried to downplay the ASA’s assessment by whitewashing the message behind the tweets. It argued that the posts were not marketing because they didn’t include a call-to-action or promotional offer.
The ASA didn’t mention any financial implications to its decision against the Entain-owned company. However, it told the operator to strike the tweets and make sure any future public marketing communication doesn’t feature “a person or character” who has “strong appeal to those under 18 years of age.”
Simple Chat With Fans
Instead, according to the company, the in-house creatives were simply a form of “fan engagement.” However, as any business and the vast majority of consumers know, a company that publishes any type of social media does so with the express intention of marketing its products or services.
You may use the Services only if you agree to form a binding contract with Twitter and are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the applicable jurisdiction. In any case, you must be at least 13 years old, or in the case of Periscope 16 years old, to use the Services,” state Twitter’s terms and conditions for the European Union and UK.
In addition, Ladbrokes claimed that no one under 18 would have had access to the posts since Twitter has an 18-or-older policy. It even claimed that could show that no one under 20 saw the tweets. However, this, too, is a farce that any marketer would know.
The minimum age on Twitter, according to its terms and conditions, is 13. The UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children confirms the minimum age for social media in the country is 13.
Statista indicates that 6.6% of the users on Twitter are between 13-17, according to data from last year. Since Twitter doesn’t require an ID for age verification, there’s no way Ladbrokes or any other company can guarantee it targets a certain age group.
This isn’t the first time Ladbrokes, and by virtue Entain, has run into problems with regulators. The ASA put Ladbrokes on notice in April of last year for “socially irresponsible” ads.
In addition, earlier this year, the UK Gambling Commission fined Entain a record £17 million (US$21 million) for not complying with social responsibility and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements. It faces similar accusations in Australia.
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