Ladbrokes Sanctioned By ASA For Socially Irresponsible Ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against a Ladbrokes advertisement, with the body ruling that the ad depicted gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible.

The ad, seen on All4 on 25 October 2020, portrayed various people using the Ladbrokes app on their mobile phones. One scene showed a clip of a horse race, before showing a man in a cafe looking into the distance, with a voice-over stating “Come starter’s orders, I’m a bag of nerves.”

The man’s leg was shaking, before a woman asked “Really?”, capturing his attention before he turned away once more. The complainant challenged whether the ad depicted gambling behavior that was socially responsible.

Ladbrokes defended the ad, stating it did not portray socially irresponsible behavior as the man was not shown placing a bet or did not talk about gambling. The bookmaker added that the ad featured people in everyday situations and that it intended to convey that many people enjoy gambling safely every week.

But the ASA has upheld the complaint, stating that ads must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible, with the ad in question breaching Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.1.

“Marketers should take care to avoid an implication of such behaviors, for instance, outwardly light-hearted or humorous approaches that could be regarded as portrayals of those behaviors,” a statement from the ASA read.

“Behaviours associated with people displaying or at risk from problem gambling included detachment from surroundings and preoccupation with gambling.”

The ASA has told Ladbrokes to ensure future advertisements do not depict gambling behavior that is socially irresponsible, such as a preoccupation with gambling and a detachment from surroundings.

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