Two radio ads for The X Factor Games contained the theme tune of the X Factor TV show and the voice-over commonly associated with that programme.
a. The first ad was heard on 6 May 2017 on Wave 105 radio at breakfast time and again at around 3pm.
b. The second ad was heard on 8 May 2017 on Absolute 80s at breakfast time.
Seven complainants challenged whether:
1. the ads were irresponsible because they were likely to appeal particularly to under 18s; and
2. the ads had been scheduled appropriately when children might be listening.
1. Radiocentre said that the product had broad cultural appeal rather than particular appeal to under-18s. They argued that xfactorgames.com, and the specific presentation of the radio ads, were acceptable brand diversification from the X Factor TV show; they did not believe the ads were irresponsible as they were unlikely to appeal particularly to under-18s.
2. Bear Group Ltd t/a The X Factor Games said that the campaign was only broadcast during the day when at least 75% of the audience was over 18. They said that terms and conditions were included in the ads which indicated that they were gambling ads. They also pointed out that the ads had gamble aware notices.
Bauer Media, who owned Wave 105 and Absolute Radio 80s, said that RAJAR figures from quarter 1 of 2017 showed that 89% of listeners to Wave 105 between 6am and 10am were over 18; 86% of listeners to Wave 105 between 3pm and 7pm were over 18; and 96% of listeners to Absolute Radio 80s between 6am and 10am were over 18.
Radiocentre said they cleared the ads with advice to schedule them away from programmes likely to be of appeal to under-18s.
1. Not upheld
Rule 17.4.5 of the BCAP Code required that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, meaning that they must not appeal more strongly to under-18s than they did to over-18s. The ads in question were for the online casino and slots website, the X Factor Games, and featured the theme tune and voice-over from the X Factor TV show. We considered that listeners would therefore associate the ads with the TV show.
We noted that the viewing figures of the TV show, taken from BARB data, showed that while many under-18s watched the TV show, it consistently produced an index score below 120, meaning that the TV show was never of proportionately greater appeal to under-18s than it was to the viewing population as a whole. We therefore considered that, notwithstanding any specific content in the ads that might appeal particularly to under-18s, references to the X Factor in a gambling ad in and of themselves were unlikely to breach the BCAP Code.
We considered that the specific elements taken from the TV show in the two ads, the theme tune and voice-over, were generic features of the show, and were therefore unlikely to appeal more strongly to under-18s than they would to over-18s given the TV BARB data. Further, there was no other content within the ads, such as specific X Factor artists or songs, which were likely to appeal more strongly to under-18s than they did to over-18s. For those reasons, we concluded that the ads were unlikely to be of particular appeal to under-18s.
On that point, we investigated the ads under BCAP Code rules 17.4.5 (Gambling), but did not find them in breach.
2. Not upheld
Rule 32.2.2 of the BCAP Code required that gambling ads, irrespective of their content, must not be advertised in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18. The RAJAR data submitted indicated that 89% of listeners to Wave 105 between 6am and 10am, 86% of listeners to the station between 3pm and 7pm, and 96% of listeners to Absolute Radio 80s were over 18. Therefore, only a small proportion of listeners to the programming in which the ads appeared were under 18. We understood that Absolute Radio 80s predominantly played music from the 1980s, while the Wave 105 breakfast and afternoon programming featured presenter-led news and entertainment. We considered that the programming on both stations were therefore unlikely to appeal particularly to those under 18. As such, we concluded that the ads had not been scheduled inappropriately.
We investigated that point under BCAP Code rule 32.2.2 (Scheduling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.