Restrictions against gambling ads in the UK might be strict, but they aren’t crazy. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has ruled that the operator’s November 2018 ad did not breach guidelines, and won’t result in any punishment.
In the ad, this guy is walking down the street while everyone else is walking the opposite way for some reason, perhaps escaping Brexit. He then comes to a door with the Betfair logo and checks his phone. He then sits down with a kind looking man, and they both look at their phones. Essentially, what dating looks like in the modern age.
The complaint against the ad centered around the narration. In the ad, the young man says:
“My gut says that horse is something special and my smarts say to back it on the Betfair Exchange where I get bigger returns than if I bet with one of these other bookies. That’s why I go to Betfair. Betfair, where gut instinct meets smarts.”
The ASA states the complaint centered around the use of the word “smarts” in an ad that makes gambling look exciting and aspirational. The complainant felt the ad could prey on the susceptibility of young men.
Now, I’m not from England and I don’t claim to know what the youth there find exciting. For my part, I don’t find much exciting about creepy blind dates in some kind of cult-like secret cavernous room.
Betfair responded to the complaint by emphasizing the ad was focused on the value they offer, rather than the excitement of the activity. They also noted that nobody else in the ad seemed to care what this young guy was doing (except maybe his date), so it’s hard to say he was aspirational. Considering the ad begins with everyone trying to walk in the opposite direction, I’d say that’s true.
The ASA deemed the complaint “not upheld” in general, agreeing with most of Betfair’s points. They did feel the guy was aspirational, purely because of how darn confident he seemed. I think they’re missing the story line of the ad in saying that though. You need to be confident when going on a blind date.
I kid because it’s fun, but the content of the ad being so not-glamorous is part of the point. The ASA’s restrictions on what can be allowed in advertising might come off as strict, they are fair to operators when it’s fairly to the point of why their product is superior.
In this case, Betfair made a solid case that their product allows you to bet against other punters, and is different than what the competition offers. Nothing else about the ad makes it seem like gambling is an exciting thing that the youth should get excited about.