ASA Adjudication on News Promotions Ltd
News Promotions Ltd t/a
1 Virginia Street
20 June 2012
Number of complaints:
WCRS & Co
A TV ad for Fabulous Bingo featured two women sitting in a dull looking cafe and where the first woman was on a laptop and was shown wearing drab clothing and glasses with her hair tied back. The second woman was shown wearing make-up, jewellery and bright clothing and looked at the first woman and said "Er. what are you doing?" with a smirk. The first woman replied "Joining new Fabulous Bingo. There's a 200% welcome bonus so if deposit a tenner, I get 30 quid to play with!". Then said "here we go" and was shown pressing a button on the laptop. Suddenly, confetti was released and the first woman was transformed into bright clothing with a fancy hairstyle and make-up. The second woman was looking at her in shock. The first woman was then heard in a voice-over saying "Plus when you join you get this Calvin Klein lip gloss worth £15." An additional voice-over said "Join today and feel Fabulous in a click at Fabulousbingo.co.uk." The ad ended with an attractive male waiter winking at the camera.
The Gambling Reform & Society Perception Group (GRASP) challenged whether the ad irresponsibly linked gambling to seduction, sexual success and enhanced attractiveness.
News Promotions Ltd t/a Fabulous Bingo (Fabulous) stated that it was important to note that the actresses who appeared in the ad had been the faces of Fabulous since March 2011 and that a transformation moment triggered by a promotional beauty product had been a recurring theme in adverts since then for the brand. They believed viewers would therefore be familiar with these actresses and the transformation idea used in each ad. They stated that the transformation would be clearly associated with the Fabulous brand and not with the bingo and believed that consequently, the change in the actresses' appearance would not be perceived as being as a result of gambling. They stated that in any event, they believed the ad did not irresponsibly link gambling to sexual success and seduction and that the actresses were shown in a café without any dialogue or interplay with the male waiter character. They stated that there was no sexual involvement, the clothing worn by the actresses was not revealing or inappropriate and the ad was clearly not of a sexual nature. They believed that, in fact, the ad was light-hearted, which was commonplace for bingo ads. They additionally believed that the ad did not link gambling to enhanced attractiveness but accepted that the actress was dressed differently after pressing the return key on the laptop. However, they said she was not shown to be more attractive than her friend who was not shown playing bingo and that her change was intended to be attributable to the fabulous brand, a fashion and lifestyle magazine, which was all about transformation.
Clearcast said they agreed with the advertisers assertions and stated that it was a template ad that had been used by Fabulous magazine across several iterations and that it showed the transformation that was possible with Fabulous magazine. They believed the audience would recognise the actresses and would be familiar with the technique of advertising the magazine by rendering one of them "fabulous". They stated that the promotion had changed but that the idea was the same and that when the ad was approved it was acknowledged that their idea was an established one and that the transformation was linked to the magazine, rather than the bingo. They added that viewers would not believe that a fairy tale transformation of this kind would occur by joining a bingo site. They believed that the fact that no complaints were received from members of the public reinforced the opinion that viewers were used to the style of ad and accepted it for the humorous advertising frippery it was intended to be.
The ASA noted the ad was one of a number for the Fabulous magazine brand which featured the same actresses and in which the initially dowdy-looking character was transformed into a glamorous-looking model. However, we considered that the characters were not so well known that the average viewer would be aware that the ad for fabulous bingo was following a previous theme for ads for the Fabulous magazine brand and therefore considered that the 'transformation' scene would be viewed purely within the context of the ad itself. We noted the ad did not show any interaction between the female characters and other character and therefore considered that the ad did not imply an increased likelihood of seduction or sexual success as a result of playing the branded online bingo game. However, although we noted the transformation was unlikely to be interpreted literally as a claim that playing bingo would result in such a dramatic change in appearance, we considered that because the ad featured such an overt transformation from dowdy to glamorous through playing the branded bingo game there was an implication that playing the branded bingo game could result in enhanced attractiveness and an improvement in self-image.
We therefore considered that from that ad directly linked the online bingo game with enhanced attractiveness and concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 17.3.6 and 17.3.7 (Gambling).
The ad should not appear again in its current form. We reminded Fabulous that ads for gambling products should not make a link between those products and the perception of enhanced attractiveness of the players.