A television ad for bookmaker Ladbrokes has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after complaints from viewers in what is the first test of tough controls on gambling advertising.
The new rules, introduced in September as part of the Gambling Act, allow betting and gambling firms to advertise on TV with restrictions.
The ASA received four complaints claiming the use of celebrities encourages bravado and could influence young people to gamble, and that the scenario suggested peer pressure (MW October 25).
The ad, the first on British television for a bookmaker, was created by M&C Saatchi and featured, among others, former footballers Ian Wright and Ally McCoist. As part of banter around a café table, Wright is challenged to “put his money where his mouth is”. Complainants claimed this phrase linked gambling to toughness.
The ASA concluded that viewers were unlikely to infer that gambling was a way to gain admiration or to interpret the ad to mean that Wright was being pressurised. It noted the ads were intended to portray light-hearted adult banter, with the characters mocking each other, and did not show gambling in the context of toughness. The middle-aged former footballers were also deemed unlikely to appeal to young people.
Ladbrokes chief executive Christopher Bell says the ASA ruling shows that “common sense has prevailed”.
Meanwhile, the ASA has rejected complaints about a TV ad for Lambrini wine, and an investigation has been launched into an ad for GHD hairstyling products, which complainants say is offensive to Christians.