In November 2017, in response to concerns about gaming tiles on gambling sites that were freely accessible and which children may see, we expanded our guidance on characters and graphics likely to hold particular appeal to children and that should be avoided. You can find our webinar on this topic here, our follow-up FAQs here and our AdviceOnline entry here.
The ASA Council has since ruled on some specific examples from TGP Europe Ltd and ProgressPlay Ltd t/a m88.com, where ads promoting various games with graphical content were seen prior to a suitably robust age verification process. Here we look at the issues that arose and why some of the ads featuring animated images fell foul of the rules.
I do believe in fairies [being likely to break the rules]
Believe what you may about fairies, but use them in gambling ads at your peril. Cute animated fairies, as well as more adult stylised fairies, were considered to break the rules. Even when the game title was spelt “Faeries” this did not deter the ASA from finding the ad problematic when coupled with an overall ‘fairy’ theme.
Ultimately, in both cases, they considered that fairies were popular amongst young children and so both ads were likely to hold particular appeal to those under the age of 18. As such, fairies are probably best avoided in space that isn’t behind a suitably robust age-verification process.
Tell no [fairy] tales
Fairy tales are also likely to fall foul of the rules given their primary audience is children. ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ had more than a hungry wolf and witch to worry about when the ASA ruled that the images used along with the names “Fairytale Legends Red Riding Hood” and “Fairytale Legends Hansel and Gretel” were, perhaps unsurprisingly, “based on a popular children’s fairy tale story”.
They therefore concluded that they were likely to be of particular appeal to children. On that basis we would advise extreme caution when it comes to creating gambling ads based on fairy tale themes.
Princes and princesses could be a right royal pain
Children love princes and princesses and graphics and images that make a character resemble those from “princess” themed films are going to be quickly dethroned by the ASA. When assessing the game tile “Robyn”, they considered that her large head, thin neck, large eyes, small nose and wavy long blonde hair were similar in style to that of “princess” themed films aimed at children.
For that reason, the ad was considered likely to appeal particularly to under-18s. It’s probably better to leave these characters in the dungeon (or at least behind a suitably robust age-verified log-in).
“Santa” cleared, but Paws for a moment…
Who doesn’t love Santa? Well maybe a few Grinches, but generally Santa is loved by all. That’s why the ASA concluded that a generic use of the name in and of itself is not likely to hold particularly appeal to children.
However, if you depict him in a particularly child-friendly way or introduce other appealing characters, such as Santa Paws or cute, cuddly polar bears, penguins and rabbits then you shall end up on the ASA’s naughty list (and maybe even Santa’s too).
One Piece of advice on anime/manga
Finally, when considering a Facebook post from Skill on Net Ltd t/a PlayOjo featuring an anime-style cartoon woman, despite having bright colours and cartoon imagery, the ASA considered this unlikely to appeal more to children than it did to adults. They took the view that, in its broadest sense, anime/manga is generally aimed at an adult audience.
This highlights that cartoon images and animation are not, in and of themselves, necessarily an issue - it is more the style that you should consider. But, obviously, if it’s reminiscent of a particular anime or manga series that’s aimed at children or well known for its popularity amongst children – you’re better off steering well clear.
For further advice, see the guidance on the links above and check out our previous article on this topic. If you’d like a view on anything you’re not sure about, our Copy Advice team are happy to give you some free, bespoke advice.