ASA warns over social media promotions after Ferdinand criticism

ASA warns over social media promotions after Ferdinand criticism

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 Totally Gaming

Gambling companies have been reminded of the importance of staying within social media advertising regulations after last week’s furore over footballer Rio Ferdinand promoting CasinoFloor.com.

Former England and Manchester United captain Ferdinand was the subject of criticism from many after a Twitter posting that offered “55 free spins on me” to his more than six million followers on the social media site.

The story was picked up by the UK’s Daily Mirror newspaper, which pointed out that Twitter users can be as young as 13 years old and therefore children could view and be influenced by Ferdinand’s promotion.

Ferdinand’s tweet appears to have since been removed from his feed, but while no complaints were made to the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and there is no suggestion that any rules were broken, the UK’s independent regulator of advertising reminded firms that they must be careful in their use of celebrity endorsements and social media promotions.

An ASA spokesman told TotallyGaming.com: “The rules state that marketing communications must not be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

“The Committees of Advertising Practice also has guidance on the use of celebrities in ads. Celebrities who are or look under 25 cannot be featured in gambling ads unless they are the subject of the bet being offered and the bet can be placed directly.

“There will be differences in specific rules for different ad mediums, for example scheduling of gambling TV ads and the need to label ads on social media platforms such as Twitter.”

Ferdinand, who is now 36 years old, became a brand ambassador for CasinoFloor in March 2015 and will appear in various advertising and promotional materials for the company.

On the announcement of the deal, the online casino operator’s managing director Jack Mizel said: “We are delighted to have such a world renowned sporting icon join our team.

“We want to be recognised, not only as a world-class online casino, but also as a recognisable brand that people want to connect with.”

Neither CasinoFloor nor Ferdinand would comment on the criticism of the tweets.

Rules for the use of social media marketing are covered by the Non-Broadcast Rules for Gambling Advertising. The regulations apply to advertisements on the internet, including banner and display ads, paid-for/sponsored search and marketing on companies’ own websites and in other space they control, such as social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

The ASA spokesman added: “The rules for gambling ads are designed to ensure that marketing communications for gambling products are socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons under 18 and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by advertising that features or promotes gambling.

“In 2014 we received over 100 complaints about gambling ads on social media. There were a variety of things the complainants highlighted about the ads they had seen. Some thought they were irresponsible or didn’t contain correct terms and conditions or were misleading.”

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