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William Hill ad complaint dismissed

| By Marese O'Hagan
A complaint alleging William Hill used a person that appeals to under-18s in an ad has been struck down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
William Hill ad

The ad was identified using the ASA’s Active Ad Monitoring system. This system uses AI to identify ads that may infringe on ASA rules.

The complaint concerned a tweet posted on 10 February this year, which was promoted by William Hill. It included a clip of ex-footballer Robbie Savage talking about the relegation chances for Leeds United.

Throughout the video, William Hill’s logo and the BeGambleAware logo were shown intermittently. The end of the video showed text stating “It’s who you play with. William Hill”.

In its defence, William Hill said the ad had been targeted at the age group of 25-49 year olds that followed the Leeds United and Sky Sports Twitter accounts.

Regular reviews of ad personalities

The operator also said that it carries out a “thorough analysis” of personalities featured in its advertising. It added that reviews are carried out regularly.

William Hill argued that Savage does not appeal to under-18s, as he has been retired for a number of years. He also last played for a high-level club 15 years ago. They noted that his last appearance for a national team was in 2004.

Analysis on Savage’s social media demographics found that 0.1% of his Twitter followers were under the age of 18.

William Hill said that Savage is “now known for punditry” as opposed to being a football player, adding that they believe he falls within the low-risk category for appealing to children. This categorisation is outlined in the ‘Gambling and lotteries advertising: protecting under-18s’ section of the Joint CAP and BCAP Advertising Guidance.

Complaint not upheld by ASA

The ASA dismissed the complaint, stating that Savage does not meet the “strong appeal” aspect necessary to uphold it.

The standards body agreed that Savage was now more recognisable as a pundit, as his football career ended some time ago.

The ASA detailed that Savage’s media appearances, on shows such as BT Sports Score and BBC Radio 5, are not targeted to under-18s and therefore have a low number of younger audience members. Savage’s appearance in a 2021 BBC Three documentary as director of football at Macclesfield FC was also analysed. The ASA concluded that the documentary’s tone was aimed towards adults.

The ASA also noted that Savage did not have public profiles on Snapchat, TikTok or Twitch. In addition, his total under-18 Twitter following amounted to 1,600 users.

After considering this, the ASA concluded that Savage did not have a strong appeal to under-18s and the advertisement did not breach any ASA rules or guidelines.

Earlier this month, the ASA found that an ad from Bet365 did breach its advertising guidelines, concluding that the footballer in the ad appealed to under-18s.

The ASA also struck down a Ladbrokes tweet this month for the same reason. This was the third time a Ladbrokes ad had been targeted for appealing to under-18s in a matter of weeks.

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