The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint about gaming site Bgo.com. Gambling has proved to be as hot a topic as ever with the regulator this year, across both broadcast and non-broadcast advertising. Just this week there was also a not upheld ruling about a LeoVegas TV ad as well as two upheld rulings on non-broadcast ads.
On the rare occasions that a TV ad receives an upheld ruling – last year saw fewer than 40 upheld rulings of the 68,500 video submissions we considered – we take stock, see if there’s anything we could have done differently, and whether the ruling sets a new precedent. Sometimes it’s as simple as not having been provided with the full information at the time of clearance, other times it’s a game-changing decision which may affect how a whole sector can advertise. In the case of the Bgo.com advert however it fits into the grey area of interpretation and nuance. The ASA’s chief exec wrote an article that covered this subject in our last newsletter if you fancy further reading.
The Bgo ad was one in a series of a long-running campaign featuring the same character and his catchphrase. We considered the issues raised in the ASA’s investigation at the time of clearance and our view was that the ad fell on the right side of the line. The ASA has disagreed, calling out particular attention to the following:
‘…the boss character had appeared in previous Bgo Entertainment campaigns, but [we] considered that not all viewers would be familiar with the character or realise that he was the owner of the casino, which was only stated in the last line of the ad. Without that knowledge, although he was not shown gambling, we considered that viewers would understand his extreme wealth to be the result of gambling.’
Sometimes when we disagree with an advertiser or agency’s interpretation of a script, we are asked to look at it as part of the campaign as a whole – whether that’s a long running series of TV ads or activity in other media. While this can be an interesting and useful exercise, – we have to strive to take all ads on their individual merits, whether or not they form part of a larger campaign. However, sometimes it can be difficult to divorce ourselves entirely from the knowledge of what has come before. This case is a reminder to Clearcast and the industry that knowledge of brand characters can never be assumed, no matter how long-running or well publicised.