A social media ad for Ladbrokes referencing a boxing match between internet celeb Jake Paul and Tommy Fury (brother of world heavyweight champion Tyson) has been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog for fears it could entice kids into wagering.
Sent in February this year, the tweet contained an image of Jake Paul (brother of the marginally more famous Logan) and asked users “What’s next for Jake Paul?” after he was beaten by Fury in a boxing match the night before.
A poll then asked users whether Paul would “Win the re-match”, “Head to the MMA”, “Return to YouTube”, or “Join the WWE.”
The UK’s CAP code, which the Advertising Standards Authority enforces, states that marketing communications for gambling products must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.
In its response, Ladbrokes maintained that there were no calls to action, promotional offers or links back to the Ladbrokes site. It also said that its Twitter feed and respective tweets were age-gated and could not be accessed by users unless Twitter had accepted their age as being over 18.
The company also explained to the ASA that “they had assessed Jake Paul’s follower demographic, brand partnerships and sponsorships, to assess the level of risk. They considered that Jake Paul did not have a significant role in boxing or general profile within the sport and that his current partnerships were with an alcohol brand and cryptocurrency businesses.”
However, that was not enough for the ASA. The industry watchdog said that “Because the ad had appeared in a medium where under-18s could not be entirely excluded from the audience it needed to comply with that rule.”
It also said that because of Paul’s social media stardom (and despite Ladbroke’s protestation that none of his Twitter followers were registered as being under 18) he was likely to be well known to children and the ad was therefore posed a “moderate risk” in its appeal to children.
The wick is clearly being turned up on wagering companies and their advertising in the UK, as it is here. Recently, the English Premier League voted to ban gambling companies from being front-of-shirt sponsors.
In Australia, the federal government is ruminating on a recommendation from the inquiry into gambling harms that might lead to a complete ban on gambling adverts within the next three years.
However, the effects that a complete ban would have on commercial TV, in particular, could be devastating for the local networks. For digital ads, as Ladbroke’s was, IAB Australia’s CEO Gai Le Roy said that an outright ban was “not a proportionate response” and that there were a “range of tools available to manage the delivery of ads online.”