UK bookmakers Ladbrokes have had the decision to ban a gambling advertisement overturned.
Last year, the corporate bookmaker sent out an email to its punters with the image of Marvel’s Iron Man, alongside a welcome bonus with free spins to use at its casino.
An email from Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd, received on 4 May 2016 also featured the text “IRON MAN 3 … Enjoy this exclusive Ladbrokes welcome offer with Iron Man 3”.
The country’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ACA), issued an investigation shortly after and found the bookmaker had breached the CAP Code requirement which says gambling ads cannot appeal to children. Incorporating popular culture references which appeal to children falls under the code too.
The watchdog then banned the advertisement on August 24.
Ladbrokes appealed the decision and used Facebook demographics, which revealed only 6.4 percent of the Marvel’s brand fan base were under 18-years-old, to counter the youth culture claim. They also added the promotion was only sent to customers who were registered punters of Ladbrokes and as such had proven they were of legal age to gamble.
The ASA initially rejected the arguments, stating the Facebook evidence was not substantial as users are required to be at least 13-years-old and a number of under-13s weren’t counted. They also were a lot more focused on the social media argument which gave Ladbrokes fair ground to appeal since it was advertised via email.
The ASA has now retracted its stance suggesting email would mean it was “extremely unlikely that anybody under 18 years of age would see the ad.”
“We understood that Comic Con events were generally aimed at adults, and incorporated comic books generally (rather than only Marvel or Iron Man), as well as other films and science fiction/fantasy literature,” the ASA said.
“Although the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and young persons, we concluded that because the ad would not be seen by them, it was not irresponsible.”
Ladbrokes gets free advertising
In the meantime, Ladbrokes has scored some bad publicity with someone spray-painting “Ladbrokes is gay” a few metres away from one of its many UK betting shops.
Luke Pollard, who is at the time of writing campaigning to become MP for the Plymouth Sutton and Devonport constituency, pointed out the claim written on a telecommunications cabinet in Salisbury Road.
Pollard took to twitter to request the Plymouth council to clean up the what he called “homophobic graffiti”.
It is not known whether the graffiti was meant for an employee of the bookmaker or the bookmaking firm itself.
The council has said it has since been removed.