On 9 March 2022, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled against PPB Counterparty Services Ltd (trading as Paddy Power), finding that material information customers require in order to make an informed decision was not presented to listeners in a clear and intelligible manner. In this case, material information concerning the conditions of an offer were spoken in a lower volume than the earlier part of the ad and at a much faster pace, leading to a conclusion by the ASA that the ad was misleading.
The radio ad in question comprised of a conversation between a man called Paddy from the “PaddyPower Support Line” and a man calling in, called Graham, about football around Christmas time. In the ad, Graham makes a call to the PaddyPower Support line because he is concerned that “it's the work Christmas party, the 5-a-side drinks, school days, dinner”, which “makes it very hard to watch all the football”. A voiceover then says “Premier League is non-stop this December so make the most of it with Paddy Power's Bet Builder offer. Get money back as a free bet if one leg of your Bet Builder lets you down”.
At the end of the ad, the voiceover goes on to say “pre match online bet builder bets only. Min odds one to five per leg. Min four plus legs. Max free bet £10 per day. Excludes enhanced match odds. T's & C's apply. 18+. Begambleaware.org.”
The complainant considered that the terms and conditions at the end of the ad were spoken too quickly and in a much lower tone, so as to make them unintelligible and therefore misleading.
The ASA Ruling
It was concluded by the ASA that the ad breached the BCAP Code rules 3.1-3.2 and 3.10-3.11 (available here) which respectively provide that adverts must not mislead customers and that any qualifications must be presented clearly.
The ASA considered that the following information about the bet was material information and therefore should have been presented to listeners in a clear and intelligible manner:
The offer applied to pre-match online bets only that were made up of four legs;
All legs needed minimum odds of one to five;
The offer excludes enhanced matched odds; and
The maximum free bet was £10 per day.
As this material information was communicated in the ad at a much lower volume than the rest of the ad and at a faster pace, the ASA considered that listeners would not have been able to absorb this key content and therefore the ad was misleading.
In the context of broadcast (TV and radio) ads, the ASA has focused its guidance on TV ads. Whilst not directly applicable to radio ads, the ASA’s guidance on the use of superimposed text in television advertising (available here) provides useful principles to assist advertisers.
In particular, the ASA will consider the effect of the significant terms from the point of view of the average consumer (e.g. well-informed and reasonably observant). The ASA will also generally consider the terms in the context of the wider ad.
It is therefore important in radio ads that the reading of the significant terms is sufficiently similar to the main body of the ad, and that such terms are not communicated more quickly or more quietly so that a reasonable person could not absorb them and understand them.
Co-authored by Rosanna Gilbey