The four Ladbrokes tweets, all made in January and February this year, featured images of tennis players Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios. The tweets were made in relation to the Australian Open Men’s tournament.
Two tweets included polls, while two referenced Djokovic’s performance during the tournament.
The ASA challenged whether the tennis players featured in the advertisements would appeal to those under the age of 18.
This is the third time the ASA has taken action against Ladbrokes for ads that appeal to under-18s since July.
Last month, the ASA rapped Ladbrokes for featuring social media personality and boxer Jake Paul in a tweet. The following week, the ASA chided Ladbrokes once again, this time for featuring Premier League managers in two promoted tweets.
Ladbrokes said the tweets were designed to be “editorial content”. While it admitted the tweets referenced well-known sports players, Ladbrokes said it “reviewed each player’s media profile, follower demographic and sponsorship partnerships” to ensure they were not of particular appeal to under-18s.
Ladbrokes also presented data on the player’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers by age group. This data showed that very few followers were under the age of 21.
In addition, Ladbrokes presented data on which age groups actually saw the tweets. For all four tweets, impressions ranged between 24,653 and 35,050. There was one impression in the 18-24 age bracket, which Ladbrokes thought was an anomaly.
ASA upholds complaint
Nonetheless, the complaint was upheld by the ASA.
The standards body ruled that all tennis players featured in the tweets are “star players”, due to their success in the sport. It added that using popular, high-level tennis players would naturally make them high-risk for appealing to those under 18.
Including them therefore breaches the ASA’s CAP Code, a set of rules for marketing in the UK. Specifically, it breached sections 16.1, 16.3 and 16.3.12.
While the ASA considered the data presented by Ladbrokes, it said that this does not override their appeal with under-18s.
The ASA said it told Ladbrokes to not include any more people that may appeal to under-18s in its advertising.