A paid-for Facebook ad for Football INDEX – Bet & Trade, seen 20 May 2019, promoted a gambling app.
Text stated "Jadon Sancho is now the football stockmarket's third most valuable player, with many traders seeing handsome profits”. It also listed the name, image and "Buy" and "Sell" values of many players, including Jadon Sancho. Text at the bottom of the ad stated “Sancho The Big Mover”.
IssueThe complainant, who noted the ad featured players who were under 25 years of age, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code.
BetIndex believed that Jadon Sancho played a significant role in the ad and said they would ensure that no players under 25 years of age would be used in their future ads in that manner. However, they had considered that the use of the images of Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Calum Hudson-Odoi, Kylian Mbappe and Marcus Rashford did not constitute them playing a significant role, that the images represented a roster of players and were used solely to illustrate the functional features of the platform and what consumers would see if using the app.
They considered that no individual player was drawn out for specific focus and pointed out that no player was featured gambling. Notwithstanding that, they had withdrawn the ad and would ensure staff would receive relevant training regarding their responsibilities under the CAP Code and the use of sportspersons under 25 yearsof age.
The CAP Code stated that no one who is, or seemed to be, under 25 years old may be featured playing a significant role in marketing communications, with the following exception: individuals who were, or seemed to be under 25 years old (18–24 years old) might be featured playing a significant role only in marketing communications that appeared in a place where a bet could be placed directly through a transactional facility, for instance, a gambling operator’s own website. The individual may only be used to illustrate specific betting selections where that individual was the subject of the bet offered. The image or other depiction used must show them in the context of the bet and not in a gambling context.
The ad promoted a gambling app which allowed consumers to act as though they were playing a football stock market and could replicate buying and selling shares in particular footballers. The ad featured images of several players who could be ‘traded’ within the gambling app, including Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Calum Hudson-Odoi, Kylian Mbappe and Marcus Rashford who were under the age of 25. We understood the intention of the ad was to illustrate the nature of the gambling app and how it could be played. However, we considered that of equal measure was its aim to offer the audience an opportunity to use the app for the purposes of gambling. In that context, while the significance of the players under 25 was no greater than the other players featured, we considered that all listed footballers were the focus of the post, and that each of them played an equally significant role in the marketing communication.
We acknowledged that there were additional references to Jadon Sancho in text at the top and bottom of the ad. Whilst we acknowledged that those references meant Jadon Sancho’s name was more prominent than the names of the other players, we did not consider that his role in the ad was any the more significant. The ad had not appeared in a place, such as the advertiser’s own website, where a bet could be placed through a transactional facility, nor had the players been used to illustrate specific betting selections where they were the subject of the bet offered. In light of the above, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and therefore breached the Code.The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 16.1 and 16.3.14 (Gambling).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told BetIndex Ltd to ensure they did not feature those under 25 years old playing a significant role in marketing communications except for where they appeared in a place where a bet could be placed directly through a transactional facility.
The individual may only be used to illustrate specific betting selections where that individual is the subject of the bet offered. The image or other depiction used must show them in the context of the bet and not in a gambling context.