BUSINESS

UK advertising watchdog slaps ‘barely legal’ tag on golfer Jordan Spieth

TAGs: Advertising Standards Authority, Bet365, coral interactive, gala coral group, Jordan Spieth, Totesport

advertising-standards-authority-spieth-barely-legal-gamblingThe UK’s advertising watchdog has told bookmakers to stop robbing the cradle, even when the youth they’re allegedly exploiting is 22 years old.

On Wednesday, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints filed against gambling operators Bet365, Coral Interactive and Betfred’s Totesport brand. All three complaints were in relation to social media posts the bookies made this summer featuring images of golfer Jordan Spieth.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code prohibits gambling operators from employing images of anyone who looks a little too close to ‘barely legal’ territory, on the grounds that such images could have extra appeal for younger viewers and thus lead them into gambling perdition.

Specifically, the code frowns on images of anyone who is either under the age of 25 years or who appears to be under 25 from playing “a significant role” in marketing communications, unless the image in question appears in a forum where the viewer can directly place a wager, for example, on the operator’s own website. Even then, the person in the image must be the direct subject of the bet in question and cannot be shown in a gambling context.

All three operators used shots of Spieth on their official Twitter feeds and all three were subject to exactly one complaint apiece, suggesting the culprit is one especially unbusy busybody. All three companies insisted that their Twitter followers were screened to ensure they were over the age of 18.

Bet365’s tweet featured a photo of Spieth holding a trophy, accompanied by text reading “FILL IN THE BLANK: I think Jordan Spieth will win ___ Majors in 2015.” The text contained no odds or other offer, so Bet365 didn’t consider the post to be an ad, but if it was, they maintained it wasn’t a socially irresponsible ad.

The ASA disagreed, saying the post was intended to promote the Bet365 brand and that the ‘fill in the blank’ question ‘encouraged followers to think about placing a bet.

Coral’s image featured Spieth holding a trophy and was accompanied by text offering odds on him winning the Masters, US Open and British Open. Coral said this was used to illustrate available golf odds rather than to promote specific offers and was therefore more editorial content than advertisement.

The Totesport tweet featured a shot of Spieth playing golf along with text saying odds of him winning the US Open had lengthened and that these odds “Will NOT last!” followed by a link to the website. Totesport noted that Spieth wasn’t “a child or young person” nor was he “vulnerable” or shown engaging in any “adolescent, juvenile or loutish behavior.”

In these latter cases, the ASA again disagreed with the operators’ protestations and upheld the complaints. All three operators were ordered not to repeat their folly and, just to be on the safe side, to feature only grizzled octogenarians in future advertisements.

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