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UK advertising watchdog rejects football pundit ad complaints

| By Richard Mulligan
The UK’s advertising watchdog has rejected complaints over former footballers Peter Crouch and Micah Richards featuring in sports betting adverts.
Crouch Paddy Power

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated after complainants questioned whether the appearance of the retired former England players was in breach of the advertising code, which restricts gambling operators from associating with individuals likely to be of strong appeal to those under 18 years of age.

The complaints related to two Paddy Power television commercials broadcast in November 2022 featuring Crouch and a Sky Bet promoted tweet from October 2022 featuring Richards. Two complainants contacted the ASA about both ads.

Both operators claimed that neither individual was of particular appeal to children with Paddy Power referring to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) guidance on gambling and lotteries advertising, which states that long-retired footballers who were now known for punditry were of low-risk of strong appeal to children. Crouch, now 41, last played for England in 2010 and retired in 2019, while 34-year-old Richards last played in the Premier League in 2016.

The ASA considered that neither had a presence on social media platforms used extensively by minors, such as Tiktok. It concluded that Crouch “had an overwhelmingly adult commercial appeal” having recently launched a beer brand with Brewdog. It said that while Richards “did have direct links to Premier League football” as a pundit, “his social and other media profile was predominantly adult-orientated”.

The ASA concluded that the Crouch or Richards ads were not of strong appeal to children or young persons and no further action is required.

It explained: “From 1 October 2022, the CAP Code stated that marketing communications for gambling products must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They must not include a person or character whose example was likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who had strong appeal to those aged under 18.

“The ASA expected advertisers to provide evidence that they had identified what persons or characters were generally known for outside the context of an ad, and had used appropriate sources of data and information to assess their likely level of appeal to under-18s.”

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