The protection of children is a very important aspect of the rules governing television advertising. Three rulings from the ASA this week demonstrate that viewers are very concerned by any potential for children to be attracted to gambling through advertising that appeals to them.
The rules state that gambling ads must not be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. The ASA has ruled on whether ads for Paddy Power, Foxy Bingo and Spin Genie were in breach of this rule.
In the case of the Paddy Power and Foxy Bingo ads the ASA decided that they did not agree with the complainant. The Paddy Power ad featured horses dressed in jumpers, which they felt was jokey and likely to be of general appeal, rather than of particular appeal to children. Furthermore, the ad did not contain anything that reflected youth culture.
The Foxy Bingo investigation was based on a challenge by the ASA themselves and was mostly concerned with whether the brand character Foxy was a problem. The ASA accepted that while there are examples of anthropomorphised animals in children’s television and literature, this character was likely to have broad appeal rather than particular appeal to children. They considered that aspects of the character, like his voice, his song-and-dance style and his interaction with the adults meant there was a clear distance between this character and Mr Tod from Beatrix Potter, for example.
During the clearance of the Spin Genie pre-production script we spent considerable time advising the agency about the potential problems inherent in a creative approach that apes the style of a video game. We saw several iterations of the script as well as mood boards until we were content that the treatment avoided showing anything that could be considered particularly appealing to children. For example, we advised against including cute characters or environments that were reminiscent of children’s video games. Our aim is always to get ads to air and to keep them there, hence the effort we put into the clearance. But despite this effort the ASA felt that the ad was reminiscent of a children’s video game. They highlighted the brightly coloured graphics, music, sound effects, and the theme of adventure in the voice over.
Gambling ads can provide a challenge for us because often the visual features of online gambling have a lot in common with the Spin Genie ad. Naturally advertisers want to produce ads which reflect the way their product looks but this upheld ruling should be a warning that this might not always be possible.
By Seb Lynch, Copy Development Manager.