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ASA raps Gala Spins over irresponsible Facebook advert

| By Robert Fletcher
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has sanctioned GVC's Gala Spins over a social media advert that drew criticism over its potential appeal to children.

The ad in question appeared in August as a paid-for post on social networking platform Facebook, promoting the Gala Spins brand.

The advert included a caption stating, “It’s a Rollercoaster of Cuteness”, as well as a video with a text saying, “What’s your spin?”, reference to the game Fluffy Favourites and images of five toy animals.

A single complainant challenged whether the content of the ad was likely to be of particular appeal to children.

In response to the challenge, Gala Spins, which is operated by GVC Holdings’ Ladbrokes Coral subsidiary, said the advert was posted on its official Facebook page that is only open to people over the age of 18, and therefore could not be seen by underage users.

Gala Spins also stated that it posted the video featuring stuffed animals in error and that it was an out-of-date video.

The brand also said the video advert was part of a wider multi-channel campaign targeting females in the UK aged between 18 and 65 with an interest in gambling and online gaming, and provided analytics that showed the campaign had not been seen by anyone under 18.

In addition, Gala Spins the advert had since been taken down across all channels.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint, referencing the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code provision stating gambling adverts must not be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially through associations with youth culture.

The ASA said it understood the ad was not seen in an age-gated environment and outside of this, Gala Spins had taken steps to target the ad at users in a certain age group.

However, the ASA also said while targeting of the ad was based on an audience that had self-reported their age, there were otherwise no prohibitions on under-18s, and therefore the steps taken could not ensure underage users who falsely reported their age were not exposed to the ad.

In terms of the ad’s content, the ASA said the cartoon-like imagery of the stuffed toy animals would likely appeal to under-18s, while the name of the game Fluffy Favourites and the caption ‘It’s a Rollercoaster of Cuteness’ would strengthen this appeal.

Concluding that these factors combined to give the ad a child-like theme, the ASA ruled that the advert was likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, and was therefore irresponsible and breached rules 16.1 and 16.3.12 of the CAP Code.

Section 16.1 of the Code states “marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited”.

Rule 16.3.12 set out how adverts must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

The ASA concluded that the ad must not appear again in its current form and also warned Gala Spins to ensure future adverts do not appeal particularly to under-18s.

Gala Spins operates as part of the GVC Holdings business, with the latter having completed the migration of all Ladbrokes Coral brands onto its proprietary technology platform earlier this year.

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