ASA reverses decision on Ladbrokes Iron Man promotion

ASA reverses decision on Ladbrokes Iron Man promotion

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 Posted by Andy McCarron
Regulator no longer deems advert irresponsible after appeal

Ladbrokes has been successful in its appeal against an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling that it was irresponsible in its promotion of an Iron Man 3 themed slot game.

The ASA had originally said that as Iron Man was a Marvel super hero character and as such popular with youngsters as well as adults, the operator’s promotion of the slot could have appealed to children.

The ASA is very forthright about the CAP Code which states that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Indeed 888 has been censured in the past for promoting a Spider-Man slot on its own website.

However Ladbrokes has stressed that that all of its email offers were sent to either registered customers or to consumers who had been validated as being over 18 years of age. Therefore, it said that the image would not have been sent to any children or young people and because of that the ad would not be able to appeal to those under 18.

After nine months since the original judgment, its seems that the ASA has relented: “We considered the information related to ‘appeal’ provided by Ladbrokes. We understood that Comic Con events were generally aimed at adults, and incorporated comic books generally (rather than only Marvel or Iron Man), as well as other films and science fiction/fantasy literature. 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.

“We understood that Iron Man was a popular character that would appeal to many adults but considered its comic book nature, and the availability of various related toys, meant it was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people.

“Nevertheless, we noted that the ad was sent by email only to registered customers and others who had been validated as being over 18 years of age. Unlike other media that was not directed at children or young persons but that they could nevertheless be exposed to, we considered that in this instance Ladbrokes had targeted the email to ensure it was extremely unlikely that anybody under 18 years of age would see the ad.

“Although the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and young persons, we concluded that because the ad would not be seen by them, it was not irresponsible.”

Totally Gaming says: Because of the hardline taken by the ASA, gambling operators have been more circumspect with how they use the super hero licensed slot games, but even this judgment last August seemed excessive given the steps that Ladbrokes had taken – as reported by TotallyGaming.com here.

It does raise the question about how brands with wide appeal can be promoted in the UK, as superhero characters are currently popular across the board, with under 18s actually only making up a small percentage of fans.

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