Ladbrokes ad banned for using Iron Man to ‘appeal to children’

The Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] has chastised Ladbrokes after the gambling giant used a popular superhero in one of its ads.

An email ad from Ladbrokes featuring Marvel superhero Iron Man has been banned after the campaign was deemed “likely to be of particular appeal to children or young people.”

Promoting an offer for Ladbrokescasino in May, the ad offered a free number of virtual casino spins and the slogan: “IRON MAN 3 … Enjoy this exclusive Ladbrokes welcome offer with Iron Man 3”.

Read more: Disney admits it has ‘no idea’ who went to see Star Wars as it increases focus on consumer insight

However, a complainant questioned whether the ad was irresponsible for linking gambling with a character potentially popular with children.

In response, Ladbrokes claimed the ad was sent only to registered customers it knew were over 18 years of age. It also cited Facebook demographics, which claim under 18-year-olds represent only 6.39% of the Marvel brand fan base, with the vast majority of fans within the 18- to 37-year-old bracket.

The ASA acknowledged the email was sent to over-18s but reiterated that gambling content should not have any potential appeal to children or young people.

It also discredited Ladbrokes’ Facebook data, stating: “While we also noted the evidence related to the Marvel brand, we understood that all Facebook users must declare themselves to be at least 13 years old, thus excluding younger children from the sample.

“We considered those younger children were likely to be the primary audience for Iron Man action figures and related merchandise, which we understood were widely available at toy retailers.”

The advertising watchdog said Marvel’s popularity combined with the mass availability of Tony Stark toys prove Iron Man has a clear appeal among children and younger people. It has subsequently banned the ad and warned Ladbrokes against featuring any characters that could be of “particular appeal” to children in the future.

The ad is a stark contrast (applause) to Ladbrokes’ most recent advertising campaign, which features football stalwarts Ally McCoist and Chris Kamara. Fortunately for Ladbrokes, Marketing Week is confident neither is of particular appeal to young children.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here