Ladbrokes’ television advertising is to be the first test case for the tough controls on gambling advertising, drawn up following the introduction of the Gambling Act 2005 in September.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received four complaints about the ad and has launched a formal investigation. The complainants claim that the use of celebrities, such as Ian Wright and Ally McCoist, encourages bravado and could influence young people to gamble.
The ad, created by M&C Saatchi, starring ex-footballers, including Wright and McCoist, shows them as builders enjoying a break in a greasy-spoon-style cafe. Amid the banter, Wright is challenged to “put his money where his mouth is”.
It is the first time an ad will be assessed as to whether it complies with the legislation, which states that gambling ads must not “exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity of children, young people or other vulnerable people”, among other guidelines.
Ladbrokes’ spokesman, Keiran O’Brien, says: “Given that it’s the first time gambling companies have been able to advertise, we’re not entirely surprised there have been complaints. But we don’t think we have transgressed and we will vigorously defend our case.”
Earlier this month ITV came under pressure to pull the Ladbrokes ad when it was screened at 2.45pm during England’s defeat of Australia in the Rugby World Cup because it could be seen by children. A clause in industry guidelines allows companies to advertise before the agreed 9pm watershed during live sporting events.