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ASA rejects complaint over Ladbrokes’ The Goonies slot ad

| By Daniel O'Boyle
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint against Entain brand Ladbrokes for a Facebook advertisement promoting a slot game based on the 1985 film The Goonies.
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The Authority ruled that the material, a promoted Facebook ad that appeared on 31 March for Jackpot King’s The Goonies slot game, did not have a “particular appeal to children”.

It received one complaint, from someone who thought that a slot inspired by the film was likely to be of particular appeal to those under 18 years of age as the slot was based on a children’s film.

The operator said it removed the ad from circulation, but argued that it was not of particular interest to children as the film had been released in 1985 and “was not a current or recent film that would be well known to children in 2021”. 

In addition, Ladbrokes said the ad was specifically targeted only at users aged 18 or over.

The Advertising Standards Authority investigated the ad against section 16.1 of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code), which says gambling ads should show “particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons”, as well as section 16.3.12, which says ads 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 agreed with Ladbrokes’ assessment and did not uphold the complaint. 

The ASA noted that age-gating the content alone did not mean that the ad was not of particular appeal to children, as “the steps taken could not ensure that under-18s, who falsely reported their age, were not exposed to the ad”.

However, it said that while the film may have been meant for children, today its appeal is likely greater for those aged over 18 than those younger.

“We understood that when it was initially released in 1985, “The Goonies” – which involved a pirate-themed treasure hunt, and featured a cast predominantly comprised of children – had been directed at, and would have particularly appealed to, audiences under the age of 18,” the ASA said. “We also understood that the film had gained cult status, particularly among adults who were children when the film was originally released. 

“We considered that because of that, it was not a recent or current film with which children were likely to be familiar.”

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