Ladbrokes ad latest to be banned for appealing to under-18s

A promotional tweet from the betting brand featuring YouTube star Jake Paul has been banned for appealing to children.

LadbrokesLadbrokes has once again fallen foul of the ad watchdog’s updated gambling guidelines, which prohibits brands from sharing marketing that could appeal to under-18s.

The gambling brand promoted a tweet in February this year featuring an image of YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul, the day after Tommy Fury beat him in their much-anticipated boxing match.

The caption said: “[Boxing glove emoji] @TommyTNTFury beat @JakePaul by split decision last night. So, we’ve got to ask the question… What’s next for Jake Paul? Vote here now [downward pointing finger emoji].”

Ladbrokes says it boosted the ad to Twitter users aged 25 years and older, and said it received 16,494 impressions, with 47.1% being from those aged between 20 and 29.

‘No magic bullet’ for gambling advertising regulation, experts sayHowever, the Committee of Advertising Practice’s (CAP) Code states marketing communications for gambling products cannot appeal to children or young people, including people or characters likely to be followed by under-18s.

The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) banned the ad because it appeared in a medium where under-18s couldn’t be entirely excluded from viewing it, despite it also concluding that boxing is an adult-oriented sport with low appeal to the younger demographic. It was also banned thanks to Paul’s general appeal to a younger audience, given his background as a YouTuber and Disney star.

Ladbrokes says it assessed Paul’s follower demographics, brand partnerships and sponsorships before sharing the tweet.

Clamping down

The tightened CAP Code guidelines were rolled out in October 2022, and Ladbrokes was one of the first gambling brands to be penalised by the updated code in December 2022, for a similar promotional tweet which featured Premier League footballers Philippe Coutinho, Jesse Lingard and Kalidou Koulibaly.

Similar to today’s ruling, that ad was banned for appealing to under-18s – something the ASA has been clamping down on since 2019.

So far in 2023, BetVictor and Bet365 have had similar marketing promotions banned by the watchdog.

In April, a paid-for Facebook ad from BetVictor featuring two Barcelona footballers was banned. Likewise, in June, Bet365 was penalised for a promoted tweet dating back to January 2023, featuring boxer Chris Eubank Jr.

Trust in advertising industry ‘boosted by ASA campaign’The ASA has been doing a lot of work to rebuild trust in advertising, with 80% of people who heard or saw a recent campaign by the regulator more likely to trust the ad industry, according to its own study.

As well as being more likely to trust the industry as a whole, those who saw the campaign were also 50% more likely to trust most ads, versus those who didn’t, the ASA and Advertising Association (AA) said in May.

The research and results are based on an online survey conducted in January this year with 2,983 UK adults aged 16 plus.

“The public is our most important customer, and we are committed to taking long-term action to rebuild the public’s trust in advertising,” said AA CEO Stephen Woodford at the time.