The press ad featured in the Daily Express – a titled owned by the Health Lottery’s parent company Northern and Shell – and included the headline: “Mortgage? What mortgage?”. Text underneath stated: “Now two chances to win £100k”.
The Gambling Reform and Society Perception Group (GRASP) complained that the ad was irresponsible, claiming it implied participating in a lottery was a way to achieve financial security.
The Health Lottery explained the ad in question was part of a series based on the theme of what people could do with their lottery winnings. Other ads in the campaign featured headlines such as: “I paid for the grandkids to go to Uni”, “Goodbye Rain, hello Spain” and “I took all of my family and friends to the Caribbean”.
Offering options on how a lottery winner could spend their winnings was a standard advertising technique, the Health Lottery claimed. It added that it “in no way” depicted participation in a lottery as a solution to financial concerns and that the top prize of £100,000 was set at a level that was too low to imply financial security.
The Adveritsing Standards Authority (ASA) considered the headline “Mortgage? What mortgage?” implied someone who won a lottery would be in a position to pay off their mortgage debt and that for some people with mortgage debt, £100,000 would be enough to offer financial security.
The CAP Code states that marketing communications must not suggest that participating in a lottery can be a solution to financial concerns – although advertisers can refer to other benefits of winning a lottery, such as purchasing new goods and experiences.
For this reason the ASA concluded the ad was irresponsible ad must not appear again. It has warned the Health Lottery against implying participation in its lottery could act as a way to achieve financial security in the future.
In August the ASA banned a Health Lottery TV ad, ruling its jackpot claim was “misleading” because it implied jackpot winners could regularly “scoop up” up to £250,000 each – but this was only the case with special promotions.
In April the ASA cleared the Health Lottery over complaints that front page articles in owner Richard Desmond’s Daily Star and Daily Express were not stated as advertorials. It was also cleared over a separate complaint about it excluding the words “up to” when promoting its £100,000 prize as the watchdog said the chances the Health Lottery would not be able to pay out was just 0.0096 per cent.
Northern and Shell launched The Health Lottery last year, looking to take on the market leading National Lottery in the UK. In November this year it claimed to have given away £50m in prizes and £27m to local health causes since its launch.