Up for the Cup – getting social media ads right for Qatar ‘22

CAP’s new rules on the appeal of gambling ads to under-18s came into effect last month further limiting the kinds of content acceptable in football-related gambling ads. Compliance is important for gambling operators talking about the World Cup in social media. All such content must comply with the standards set out in the CAP Code.

New guidance

Whether a piece of content like an image of footballer or even just background graphics is likely to be banned by the ASA because it’s deemed of ‘strong’ appeal to under-18s can be sometimes be tricky. Luckily, CAP has produced an extensive piece of guidance accompanying the new rules to help advertisers get it right.

Football and appeal to under-18s

Football is overwhelmingly popular with all age groups. Children and young people play it, watch it, and want to be part of it in huge numbers. It’s the cup final in terms of strong appeal at the level of the activity itself. So, sports betting operators need to be very careful in the kinds of content used. And it doesn’t come any bigger than the World Cup.

The new controls on appeal don’t ban football-related content and references outright. There are proportionate exemptions that allow gambling advertising to reasonably illustrate betting products offered.

What can be included?

Football references are only acceptable, if they come under one of the exemptions set out in part 15 of the guidance. These are:

  • Text or audio references to the activity/product
  • Limited use of persons or characters who pass the test set out in the guidance
  • Generic depictions of the sport or game
  • Logos of teams/competitions that are subject of a product
  • Advertisers brand logos/identifiers

This means, you can play-on with simple text or text-only graphic posts that refer to teams and players. For example, during the action in live commentary or comment, or reporting on the event afterwards. The same also goes for audio references like embedded videos of talking heads discussing the days games. But, it’s a straight red for the inclusion of depictions of players, teams or managers. This is important when posting things like team sheets (no headshots) or vids recapping the action. And be very careful with memes and attempts at comedy.

There’s likely to be some scope to use football-related people, like pundits, but the guidance sets out the tests for the individual’s profile you must satisfy to make sure they aren’t likely to be of ‘strong’ appeal to under-18s (see guidance part 18).

Keep any other post content generic and you’ll be on for a comfortable three points. That means generic equipment like balls, goalposts, or coloured shirts. But you can also go with stylized depictions like blurred or long focus shots of stadia or computer-generated imagery. The other area of exemptions allows, simply, for the use of logos of your business (if they include football-related imagery, for instance) and that serve the same purpose as a simple text description (a team crest or tournament logo).

More help

Check out the new guidance and make sure you’re doing social properly. You can also get bespoke advice with a quick turn-around from CAP Copy Advice.

More on

  • Keep up to date

    Sign up to our rulings, newsletters and emargoed access for Press. Subscribe now.