UK gambling charity scolded over “offensive and distressing” promo

TAGs: Advertising Standards Authority, gala bingo, gala interactive, Responsible Gambling Trust

responsible-gambling-trust-distressing-advertThe UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has scolded the betting industry-funded Responsible Gambling Trust (RGT) for a cinema promo that a viewer found “predatory and sexually abusive.”

The ad featured an older man sitting at a desk talking to a younger woman sitting on a bed. The man delivers a suggestive monologue recalling “a bit of fun” the woman had, how her “whole body was tingling,” that it was “the best feeling you’ve ever had,” and telling her “don’t tell me you don’t remember that.”

At the end of the spot, the woman gets up from the bed, walks over to the desk, where the man has now been replaced by a laptop logged on to an online bingo site, where the woman begins to play. The ad closes with large text directing viewers to “”

In response to the complaint, the RGT insisted that the ‘Voices’ campaign was intended to be provocative, memorable and representative of problem gamblers’ “inner demon.” The promo had been approved by both the British Board of Film Classification and the Cinema Advertising Agency to air before films rated PG and above, while the RGT had booked the ad to run only at screenings of the 18+ film Trainspotting 2.

But the ASA sided with the complainant, in part because the real source of the man’s voice wasn’t revealed until the ad’s final moments. The ASA reasoned that victims/survivors of abuse could find the ad “highly distressing and/or traumatic” and felt the RGT’s intention didn’t justify the risk of this potential distress. The ASA ordered the RGT not to run the ad again and to avoid similarly “offensive and distressing” material in future ads.

In a more mundane ruling, the ASA found fault with a Gala Bingo television commercial because a viewer couldn’t read the fine print. The ad promoted a weekly contest known as The Chase, and culminated in on-screen text detailing some conditions, including when the promo expired and minimum ticket prices.

Gala Interactive noted that the type exceeded the official guidance for on-screen text in TV ads, as the total 59 words were of sufficient size to be legible and stayed on screen for 17 seconds.

The ASA disagreed, saying the text was of sufficient vertical height but “very compressed” horizontally, while the background’s “rapidly moving images of light and color changes” didn’t help. Given the restrictive nature of the conditions set forth in the text, the ASA felt Gala was expecting too much from the Mr. Magoos of the UK online bingo world and ordered the company to beef up their fonts in future ads.


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