The UK’s ad watchdog has rendered a mixed verdict on the appropriateness of bookmaker Ladbrokes’ recent ad campaign. In April, Lads rolled out the new Ladbrokes Life marketing push across television, online video spots and outdoor poster displays. Within a month, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) had received a sufficient volume of complaints to launch an investigation into whether the campaign breached the ASA’s gambling guidelines.
Lads’ campaign depicted five characters, each representing a different personality type that followed a specific code, both in betting and life in general. The complaints centered on whether the spots unnecessarily glamorized betting, linked betting with sexual success or were directed at underage punters. The ASA cleared Lads of the latter two charges, while only partially exonerating the firm on the glamor issue.
Posters featuring two of Lads’ fab five characters – the irrepressibly optimistic “Mr. Brightside” and the coldly analytical “The Professor” – were found to be uttering slogans the ASA deemed to have “condoned an irresponsible attitude towards gambling.” Specifically, Mr. Brightside’s declaration that “When you win it’s skill – when you lose it’s bad luck” and The Professor’s “Once is luck – twice is talent” were deemed to lack the level of context contained in their associated TV and YouTube spots, which framed the quotes as part of the characters’ broader outlook on life, not just betting.
The ASA ordered Lads to refrain from running the offending posters in future. Lads, who had originally slammed the complainants as “people who have had a sense of humor failure,” issued a statement saying it would immediately comply with the ASA’s wishes while insisting it “was never our intention to push any boundaries.”
Lads is trying to push boundaries online, having recently announced the launch of a new poker app it claims is the first to offer deposits via PayPal. The native iOS and Android app marks the first new poker product since the bookie signed on with Playtech’s iPoker network after leaving Microgaming’s MPN last December.