On 21 August 2019, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) upheld a complaint against an ad from BetIndex Ltd ("BetIndex") shown on social media. The ASA found it was in breach of the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising ("CAP Code") as it showed individuals under the age of 25 playing a significant role in marketing communications.
The ad was for Football Index, a UK-licensed gambling platform (known as the Football Stockmarket) that allows football fans to gamble on the future success of football players.
The ad in question showed several football players under the age of 25 below their "Buy" and "Sell" values. In particular, it focused on Jadon Sancho (aged 19), with the ad stating that he was "now the Football Stockmarket's third most valuable player, with many traders seeing handsome profits". There was additional text at the bottom of the ad that stated "Sancho The Big Mover."
The complainant challenged the ad on the basis that it featured players who were under 25 years of age, in breach of the CAP Code.
The CAP Code states that nobody under (or who appears to be under) the age of 25 should be depicted gambling or playing a significant role in gambling marketing except for marketing communications that appeared in a place where a bet could be placed directly through a transactional facility such as a gambling operator's own website or premises.
In response to the complaint, BetIndex accepted that Jadon Sancho played a significant role in the ad and agreed in future to not include players under the age of 25 in its ads in such a manner. However, in relation to the other players shown who were also under the age of 25, BetIndex did not consider that these players played a significant role in the ad and their images were used solely to demonstrate the functional features of its platform and were no different to what consumers would see if they downloaded the Football Index app itself.
The ASA accepted that the intention of the ad was to illustrate the nature of the gambling app offered by BetIndex, but considered that equally its aim was to offer consumers an opportunity to use the app for the purposes of gambling. Whilst the significance of the players under 25 was no greater than the other, older players featured, the ASA considered that all displayed footballers were the focus of the ad, with each playing an equally significant role. In light of the above, the ASA concluded that the ad was irresponsible and therefore in breach of CAP Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.14.
A link to the full ruling can be found here. The ASA ruling is similar to its ruling against Tottenham Hotspur and William Hill and highlights the care gambling operators need to take when including sportspeople in their marketing communications, especially given a large number of high profile athletes are under the age of 25.