UK ad watchdog no fan of Fanbet’s “save yourself” suicide-themed promo

advertising-standards-authority-fanbet-arsenal-suicideThe UK’s advertising watchdog has publicly shamed online betting operator Fanbet for using suicide-themed imagery to promote its services.

On Wednesday, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) issued a ruling regarding a complaint it received about a Fanbet online display ad that appeared on an Arsenal FC fan site. The ad featured three rotating slides, one of which depicted a silhouette of a man hanging from a rope by his neck, accompanied by text reading “SAVE YOURSELF.”

The complainant felt that suicide-themed imagery was a poor choice for promoting gambling activity, given the much publicized link between problem gambling and suicidal thoughts. The ASA agreed that the ad “presented suicide in a light hearted way” and gave off the impression that “continued gambling could address previous poor results.” As such, the ASA deemed the ad to be “irresponsible” and in violation of the CAP Code that governs non-broadcast ads and promotions.

While the Arsenal site received no direct complaints, it took down the Fanbet ad after being contacted by the ASA. Fanbet also agreed to remove the ad after being contacted by the ASA. Both Fanbet and the Arsenal site vowed to pay greater attention to the appropriateness of future ad content.

Meanwhile, across the Irish Sea, Tuesday saw the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) impose new restrictions on gambling ads. While the ASAI is an advertising industry-funded group with no legal standing, it nonetheless wants its members’ gambling ads to contain responsible gambling messaging and directions to responsible gambling information sources.