ASA rules that Gala Spins ad appealed to children

United Kingdom

On 28 October 2020 the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) ruled that an LC International Ltd t/a Gala Spins (“Gala Spins”) ad was to be banned from appearing in its current form. The ASA warned Gala Spins that it could not promote adverts of gambling products which appealed particularly to under 18s. The ASA was of the opinion that this was a clear breach of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing rules (“CAP Code”) 16.1 and 16.3.12.

The incident

On the 12 August 2020, a paid-for Facebook post included the caption “IT’S A ROLLERCOASTER OF CUTENESS!”. The post, paid for by Gala Spins, included a video which began with a voice-over calling “What’s your spin?”. The video also included text with the phrase “What’s your spin?” and “GALA Spins” after which the video text read “Fluffy Favourites”. This text was shown alongside five fluffy toy animals. 

The issue

The issue surrounding the complaint was whether or not the content of the advert was likely to appeal to children. Gala Spins maintained that the advert was posted on their official Facebook account, which was exclusively available to those over 18 years old. They asserted that the age-gating mechanism would restrict access to the ad and prevent under 18s from accessing the content and interacting with the Gala Spins Facebook page.

Gala Spins explained that the advert featuring the toy animals was an out-of-date advert and had been uploaded in error, and that whilst this was an error, the toy animals featured in seconds four to six of the eight second long video and therefore viewers would have had to press play for the video to run and for the toy animals to be visible.

Whilst Gala Spins maintained that they were not targeting young children, they did state that the video was part of a multi-channel campaign aimed at attracting more females between the ages of 18 and 65, who had a special interest in gambling and in online gambling in particular. Gala Spins provided the ASA with analytics of the advertising campaign which they claimed proved that none of those who had seen or interacted with the advert were under 18 years old. The data showed that all of those who had interacted with the ad were women. However, they said that the advert had since been taken down on all of their platforms.

The ASA considered whether Gala Spins had breached rules 16.1 and 16.3.12 (Gambling) of the CAP Code. Rule 16.1 states that ‘marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited’ and Rule 16.3.12 states that such marketing must not ‘be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture’.

The ruling

The ASA held that the ad violated the CAP Code and stated that gambling adverts must not appeal more strongly to those under 18 than to those aged 18 and over. The ASA acknowledged that Gala Spins had taken steps to ensure that the advert was only seen on its age-gated Facebook page, however, as Gala Spins had relied on people self-reporting their age, it was possible that children may have falsely reported that they were over 18. The ASA stated that there was no way for Gala Spins to ensure that this didn’t occur.

The ASA considered that it was likely that the cartoon-imagery and the name of the game “Fluffy Favourites”, would appeal to under-18s. The caption “IT’S A ROLLERCOASTER OF CUTENESS!” further confirmed to the ASA that this advert was likely to appeal to children and young people.

Gala Spins was told by the ASA that is must not use the ad in its current form again, and was told to ensure that future adverts for gambling products did not appeal to those under 18 years old.

To read the full ruling, please click here.

Co-authored by Raeesa Ajmi