ASA Ruling on The Health Lottery Ltd
The Health Lottery Ltd
The Northern and Shell Building
Number 10 Lower Thames Street
30 January 2013
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A TV ad for a lottery featured different people saying "I'm a loser". A couple were featured sitting outside a house and a man stated "We lost a brand new kitchen and a conservatory". A woman was featured in front of a picture of a beach and stated "I lost a holiday to Barbados". A man featured crouching down next to a red sports car stated "And I lost this" and then another man stated "My Saturday numbers come up [sic] ... on a Wednesday". A female voice-over said, "The Health Lottery. Every Saturday and now Wednesday."
1. Fourteen complainants objected that the ad was irresponsible, because they believed it suggested peer pressure to participate in the lottery or disparaged abstention.
2. Eight complainants objected that the ad was irresponsible, because they believed it exploited vulnerable people.
1. The Health Lottery Ltd (The Health Lottery) said it was common practice in the lottery industry to launch a midweek product once the weekly draw had been established. The ad was broadcast when they were withdrawing their "The Hot Ticket Raffle" promotion, which guaranteed a second £100,000 jackpot for players who did not win in the main draw. Because the "The Hot Ticket Raffle" promotion had been popular with their players, one of the purposes of the ad was to raise awareness about the fact that the Wednesday draw was not a "second chance" draw or raffle but a new product for which a new ticket purchase was required. They said a caption at the bottom of the screen stated "Saturday Draw numbers not entered into Wednesday Draw free of charge" which made this clear. They said the voice-over was not irresponsible because, rather than disparaging abstention, it made clear that the new Wednesday product was not a promotion where numbers were entered free of charge.
Clearcast said although the characters within the commercial were portrayed as losers, the treatment was sufficiently comedic and light-hearted not to be taken at face value and did not use peer pressure or disparage abstention. They said the items listed as having been "lost" were clearly only figments of the characters' imaginations and that the portrayal of people having lost items could be interpreted as a cautionary tale.
2. The Health Lottery said the people in the ad were professional actors and the prizes or dream purchases referred to were normal items that lottery players often purchased with their winnings. They said the intention of the ad was to inform players of the new rules and make clear that it was not a free prize promotion. They did not believe it exploited or took advantage of vulnerable people.
Clearcast said there was no direct exhortation aimed at viewers to purchase tickets for the new Wednesday draw but simply a reminder that there was now a new draw. They said the ad contained the requisite Gamble Aware website and was scheduled appropriately to prevent it from being broadcast to those under the age of 18 years. They believed that it would not put pressure on vulnerable persons into making a purchase.
The ASA understood that there were two meanings of the word "loser", as it related to the featured people who had "lost" items that they could have purchased had they participated in the draw and won, and as it related to them as having failed because they had not participated in a draw that they could have won. We considered that the message of the ad was that these people had failed and lost out because they had not participated in the Wednesday draw. We also considered that the term "loser" was a pejorative term and some of the featured people calling themselves "losers" appeared distressed or frustrated by their lack of participation in the draw, and one shouted "loser" directly at viewers which we considered would be interpreted as suggesting that viewers were "losers" if they did not participate. We therefore considered the ad disparaged abstention from the Wednesday draw and concluded that it breached the Code.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 18.2.5 and 18.4 (Lotteries).
Some of the characters appeared to be distressed or frustrated by their lack of participation in the Wednesday draw, while one shouted "loser" directly at viewers. We considered that the term "loser" was a pejorative term and that, in the context of the ad, was likely to exploit the susceptibilities and credulity of vulnerable people by suggesting that if they did not participate in the draw they had somehow failed. We therefore considered that the ad was socially irresponsible and concluded that it breached the Code.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 18.4 (Lotteries).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Health Lottery to ensure future ads for lotteries did not disparage abstention from participating in lottery draws and did not exploit the susceptibilities and credulity of vulnerable people.