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ASA strikes down Ladbrokes ad for appealing to under-18s

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has struck down an advert by UK retail giant Ladbrokes for featuring social media personality and boxer Jake Paul, which the self-regulatory organisation said was likely to appeal to under-18s.
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The February 2023 Ladbrokes ad, which took the form of a promoted tweet, featured Paul following his bout with English professional boxer Tommy Fury.

The ASA claimed that this represented a breach of its advertising code due to Paul’s popularity with under-18s. Following the decision, the ASA ordered the ad not to appear in its current form.

Ladbrokes initially defended the ad, arguing that it included no calls to action, promotional offers or links back to the Ladbrokes site. The company pointed to an age-gate it had implemented on its feed. This meant users could not access the ad unless Twitter had accepted that they were over-18.

ladbrokes said that boxing is not considered a high-risk sport under the CAP guidelines

The operator also said that boxing is not listed as being of moderate or high-risk sport under the CAP guidelines.

Additionally, the business said that it had assessed Paul’s follower profile, brand partnerships and sponsorships to determine the level of risk. The company noted that the influencer currently has a number of deals with alcohol and cryptocurrency businesses.

ASA upholds complaint

However, despite Ladbrokes defence, the ASA opted to uphold the complaint. As evidence for this the body pointed to the Paul’s 65 million social media followers across multiple platforms. The ASA emphasised around three million followers are registered as under-18s on each site.

The organisation also highlighted that Paul featured on children’s TV programme Bizaardvark from 2016 to 2018, a show about two teenagers. The ASA added that the target audience for the programme would include some people under the age of 18 as of 2023.

“We therefore considered it was likely that the target audience for that programme would be around the same age and that therefore it was likely to have a strong appeal to under-18s,” said the ASA.

Second Ladbrokes ad offense

The decision is not the first time the ASA has decided to act against a Ladbrokes ad. In July 2021, the self-regulatory body upheld a complaint against the betting and gaming operator. The ad took place as part of Ladbroke’s April 2021 “Where the Nation Plays” campaign.

The case concerned an advert which involved scenes of three men placing bets on the Ladbrokes app and their various reactions to a football game. In that case, the operator ruled the ad socially irresponsible and likely to encourage problem gambling.

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