Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A TV ad for StarWins.com, seen on 17 January 2017, began with a shot of two men standing at a bar in a pub next to a table where a man and a woman were chatting to each other. One of the men at the bar watched a woman as she walked past before a voice-over stated, “Allow me to introduce you to Star Wins” and one of the men pulled out his mobile phone and swiped the screen. The men were transported to a casino. The camera panned from a woman in a sequined dress dancing on a stage to the men as they walked down a flight of stairs. As they reached the floor of the casino the voice-over stated, “For you card sharks we’ve got real female croupiers who can handle that” as a woman wearing a sequined gold dress walked between them. The men watched her as she walked towards and past them and turned to look behind them to continue watching her as she walked to join the other dancers on stage. The men smiled at each other and continued further into the casino. The voice-over stated, “Or if roulette is your thing, we’ll put you in a spin 24/7” as the two men walked past a table where two female croupiers wearing tight, low-cut dresses stood with two female and one male gambler. The croupiers watched the men closely as they walked past. The men then approached a roulette table where a female croupier stood, along with a group of mainly female gamblers. One of the men flipped a chip onto the table while staring intently at the croupier. The voice-over continued, “You’ll be surprised where it can take you. Star Wins. Get in the game” as the men were shown throwing chips into the air in celebration, surrounded by the group of women. A final shot showed them celebrating back at the bar in the pub. The couple at the table next to the bar turned to smile at them.
1. One complainant, who felt the ad was sexist and objectified women, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
2. The ASA challenged whether the ad suggested that gambling could enhance personal qualities, and linked gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.
1. Bear Group Ltd t/a Daily Star Wins said the ad aimed to inform players of Daily Star Wins and the interactive online casino games that were on offer, by depicting two players entering a virtual casino which had a typical casino-type atmosphere and employees.
Daily Star Wins said the ad communicated that players could have their bets taken by female croupiers. Croupiers had been depicted as a predominantly male-dominated profession in the past and they highlighted that the position of croupier employed a great deal of responsibility and skill. The croupiers in the ad were in a position of greater authority than the players. They therefore did not believe the ad prejudiced, stereotyped or discriminated against women on the basis of their sex.
They said the first time that female employees of the casino were shown in the ad they were featured performing in a cabaret act; the two male protagonists took a brief interest in the performance until one of them drew the other’s attention towards the games. They said the women were dressed in traditional cabaret-style costumes. The inclusion of the cabaret performance was intended to place the viewer in a traditional casino setting which might feature cabaret as an entertainment. The second scene where women were predominantly featured was at the roulette table. Daily Star Wins said the croupiers were formally dressed in evening wear, which was in keeping with how casino employees often dressed. They did not believe the ad objectified women.
Clearcast said they considered the main focus of the ad was on the two male protagonists rather than the women, who appeared in the background with other males. They noted that the casino setting featured female croupiers and dancers and accepted that there were exchanges of glances and smiles between the two men and female dancer and croupier, but considered they were fairly brief and did not place too much emphasis on the women. They did not believe the ad at this point was sexist or objectified women.
2. Daily Star Wins noted that the protagonists were shown in the same ordinary clothes throughout the ad, which was a deliberate creative decision to avoid glamourising gambling, and that their self-image or self-esteem did not improve and no one in the casino was seen interacting with them. They considered there was therefore no recognition or admiration of the players.
They said that since there was no direct interaction between the protagonists and the casino employees or other players, it could not be said that there was any suggestion of seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness. For example, the cabaret performer who walked past the players was smiling at her colleagues on stage rather than at the protagonists, and the act of the female croupiers looking up from the table as the protagonists walked past reflected the normal behaviour of an employee wishing to acknowledge a customer. They also highlighted that the ad ended with the two players back at the pub on their own, so there was therefore no suggestion that they achieved any sexual success or enhanced attractiveness.
Clearcast did not believe the ad suggested that gambling could enhance personal qualities or link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness. While there was the odd exchange of glances between the protagonists and the female croupiers, Clearcast argued that there was only mild flirtation, which was permissible. They said the ad had established that the casino was a fantastical setting and the men were seen being transported back to the bar at the end. They considered it therefore did not go so far as to link gambling to sexual success. They said there was nothing in the visual treatment to suggest a link between gambling and seduction or enhanced attractiveness.
The ASA noted that all the casino employees seen in the ad were women and that the majority of the people present in the casino were women. While in the casino the men only interacted with each other or with women (rather than other men), and when interacting with women in each case either the men or the women gave each other intense looks which suggested they were appraising them physically. We considered the ad put particular visual emphasis both on the generally high proportion of women in the casino and on the physical attractiveness of the female casino employees to the two male protagonists.
We considered that the combination of those visual emphases with the voice-over specifically highlighting that Daily Star Wins (which provided only online casino services) employed “real” female croupiers, served to depict the presence of physically attractive women as the key attraction of Daily Star Wins. We considered the ad therefore objectified women, and concluded it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence on that basis.
On this point, the ad breached BCAP Code rule 4.2 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. (Harm and offence).
When the men were initially shown in the pub the only person who paid attention to them was the barman serving their drinks. We noted that in contrast, in the casino they exchanged intense looks with the female casino employees, a group of people (mainly consisting of women) began to gather around them as they approached the roulette table, and that group had grown when they were shown winning and celebrating. We considered that all those aspects of the ad together created an impression that the men’s interest in and eventual success at gambling had gained them recognition and admiration, and made them more popular and attractive to women. We concluded the ad therefore suggested that gambling could enhance personal qualities, and that it linked gambling to seduction and enhanced attractiveness.
On this point, the ad breached BCAP Code rules 17.3,
suggest that gambling can enhance personal qualities; for example, that it can improve self-image or self-esteem, or is a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration
and 17.3.7 17.3.7 link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness (Gambling).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Bear Group Ltd t/a Daily Star Wins to ensure their ads did not cause serious or widespread offence through the depiction of or objectification of women. We also told them to ensure their ads did not suggest that gambling could enhance personal qualities, or link gambling to seduction or enhanced attractiveness.