Ladbrokes criticised for “socially irresponsible ad” by ASA

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LADBROKES have been advised about future advertisements displaying gambling problems by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

The complaint issued was in relation to an advertisement produced in October 2020 which was described as showing “gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.”

ASA issued a report today that outline its decision saying that they have now advised the gambling site to ensure its future adds do not depict gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.

A picture of a TV - Business News UK
(Photo by Fran Jacquier on Unsplash) ASA have advised Ladbrokes on their advertising

The report published by the ASA said: “A VOD ad  for Ladbrokes, seen on All4 on 25 October 2020, showed various people using the Ladbrokes app on their mobile phones.

“One scene showed a clip of a horse race, before showing a man in a café with several other people, looking away from them at something else in the distance, over the shoulder of one of them.

“A voice-over stated, “Come starter’s orders, I’m a bag of nerves.” The man’s leg was shaking, making the food and cutlery on the table shake.

“A woman said to him, “Really?”, capturing his attention briefly, before he turned away again.” 

Responding to the complaint LC international LTD t/a Ladbrokes said they did not believe the add depicted socially irresponsible behaviour.

The report says that the betting giant said that the man in question was “simply stating he got nervous ahead of starter’s orders which would be his natural reaction whether or not he was gambling.”

Ladbrokes were said to further claim that the advertisement did not breach rules because the advert did not show the man placing a bet, or the man mentioning he had placed a bet.

The report says: “They argued that nerves before a sporting event were normal emotions.

“Ladbrokes said many people enjoyed gambling safely every week and the ad intended to convey that enjoyment, and to portray using the app as fun and entertaining.”

Non-Governmental organisation Clearcast who pre-approve most British advertisements on television were reported to have said that the man had an “annoying habit and a fidget but he was not shown being harmfully obsessed with his bet.”

Channel Four also reported that they did not believe the ad was socially irresponsible or could cause financial social or emotional harm.

However, ASA who upheld the decision said that the The Committees of Advertising Practice Code (CAP) said that advertisements which showed worrying behaviour or indicators towards problem gambling were likely to breach code.

ASA said: “We disagreed with Clearcast’s view that the man was never disconnected from his companion, or from the room, and considered viewers would assume from his behaviour that he was preoccupied with the outcome of the race in relation to a bet he had placed.

“We also considered that the man was obviously detached from his surroundings as he watched.”

The ASA concluded: “For those reasons, we concluded that the ad depicted gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, and therefore breached the Code. The ad breached CAP Code.

We told LC International Ltd t/a Ladbrokes to ensure future ads did not depict gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, such as detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling.”