UK bookmaker William Hill has fallen afoul of the nation’s advertising watchdog for the second week in a row, this time for being too sexy for its own damn good.
On Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint by a user of the dating app Tinder, who took offense at a Hills advert that appeared in March promoting the upcoming Cheltenham racing festival.
The ad included copy evidently styled to appeal to Tinder users, asking: “Stuck in the friend zone? You won’t be for much longer if you use this Cheltenham free bet offer.” The complainant felt the ad was in violation of the UK’s advertising code by linking gambling to sexual success.
Hills’ defense was somewhat half-baked, simultaneously suggesting that, like Tinder users, Hills bettors were prone to ‘shop around’ for the best offer. But in the ASA’s words, “upon reflection, [Hills] agreed that [the ad] had the potential to be interpreted differently.”
Hills removed the ad and conducted a review of its other Tinder promos, while Tinder essentially said they saw nothing wrong with the ad before adding it to their platform and hadn’t received any complaints about it afterward.
The ASA’s assessment of the ad was that it was indeed linking gambling with the ability to turn a friendship into a sexual relationship. The ASA ordered Hills to make sure the same ad didn’t make further appearances elsewhere and to make sure that future ads didn’t link gambling with seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.
This is Hills’ second trip to the ASA’s woodshed in as many weeks. The company was previously spanked for a promotional tweet from the official account of Tottenham Hotspur FC that included images of two members of the team who were under 25 years of age, which ran counter to the ASA’s rules about marketing material that depicts anyone younger than Methuselah.