Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, of which two were Not upheld and one was Upheld.
A TV ad and a sponsored ad on Instagram for bgo.com, a gambling website:
a. The TV ad, seen in June 2016, featured Verne Troyer sitting in a small boat in an open-air swimming pool talking on a mobile. He said "Beat me? You can't beat this!". The camera panned out to reveal a poolside party. The man began dancing and rapping "You can't beat this!" and was shown standing by a sports car, pointing to a jet flying over a large mansion, on a yacht, a motorbike and with a Rolls-Royce car. He was shown in the company of two young women, who danced and dealt gold playing cards in to the air. The man's bodyguard was seen writhing in a sea of gambling chips. The lyrics of the song stated "My, my winning makes me so rich. Makes me sing. You're all my chips [gambling chips]. Thank you for blessing me with a chain that's bling and a head that shines. And I own the hot seat. And I am the boss that you can't beat". At the end of the ad, the man said "I'm the boss of bgo.com and you can't beat this" pointing to himself.
b. The sponsored ad, seen in June 2016, featured the same man with two women standing behind him holding magnum bottles of champagne. Text stated "50 FREE SPINS NO DEPOSIT REQUIRED". Text posted below stated "The Boss thinks you can't BEAT him! Why not give it a go and prove him wrong?".
1. Two viewers challenged whether the TV ad (a) was irresponsible, because it suggested gambling could be a way to achieve financial security.
2. One of the viewers also believed that ad (a) was irresponsible, because it was likely to be of particular appeal to those under 18 years of age.
3. The same viewer also challenged whether the sponsored ad (b) was irresponsible, because it linked gambling with alcohol and sexual success.
1. Bgo Entertainment Ltd explained that main character of ‘the boss’ had been used in their advertising for some years. He was not a player, but the owner of the casino and therefore his success was not related to gambling winnings. He was shown to live in a surreal world in ad (a) and they believed it was clear to viewers that his position was clearly unattainable. They said the ad did not suggest that anyone could get rich by playing at Bgo Casino, but in fact the contrary by specifically stating throughout the ad that viewers “can’t beat this”.
Bgo Entertainment believed it was clear from the ad that the character was the owner of the casino. He was not shown gambling and wore bgo branded clothing throughout the ad in order to establish that he was not a customer. The scene with the bodyguard on top of a pile of gambling chips represented players losing their chips back to the boss. The website URL was not shown until after the character had stated that he was the boss of the casino. Bgo Entertainment said the concept of the ad was the reverse of other gambling ads by telling viewers that they could not beat the ‘boss’ because he always won, which is why he sang “My, my, my winning made me so rich”.
Clearcast said the exaggerated character of ‘the boss’ had already achieved his fame and fortune through owning the business rather than him being a customer and achieving his wealth through gambling. They believed that the boss was an established character and the line “Beat me? You can’t beat this!” was similar to previous catchphrases such as “you can’t beat me” used by the character in past ad campaigns. They also believed that the line “You can’t beat this” suggested that the viewer could not beat the house at Bgo.com and therefore could not achieve financial security through gambling.
2. Bgo Entertainment believed that ad (a) was unlikely to be of particular appeal to under-18s. They said the surreal humour was likely to appeal to older people and, although some under-18s might recognise Verne Troyer who played the boss, the content and music were likely to have a much wider appeal.
Clearcast said the rap and style of the ad was linked to retro rap music, a style that had been around for some time, and the artists associated with that genre had a strong appeal to older audiences. They believed the ad did not target a younger audience and the extravagant lifestyle of the character and rap music had a more general appeal.
3. Bgo Entertainment said ad (b) was part of the same 'boss' character campaign and as the owner of the casino, his success was not related to gambling winnings. He was shown to live in a surreal world and his position was clearly unattainable.
Bgo Entertainment said the aim of using the women holding shining glass bottles was to help create the boss’s world, but there were no labels on the bottles that would suggest that they contained alcohol. None of the people in the ad were shown gambling or drinking or appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. They said the women were wearing glitzy rather than suggestive clothing and were not positioned in a sexually suggestive or provocative way.
Instagram said the ad did not contravene their policies on gambling ads.
The ASA understood that the boss character had appeared in previous Bgo Entertainment campaigns, but considered that not all viewers would be familiar with the character or realise that he was the owner of the casino, which was only stated in the last line of the ad. Without that knowledge, although he was not shown gambling, we considered that viewers would understand his extreme wealth to be the result of gambling. This impression was reinforced by the opening lines of his song, “My, my winning makes me so rich”. The bodyguard was also shown writhing in a sea of gambling chips, which suggested that they were the boss's winnings, rather than the chips that customers had lost. This added to the overall impression that his wealth was the result of his gambling; there was no indication that his fortune had been achieved by other people’s losses. Although we acknowledged that the ad was fantastical and exaggerated, we nonetheless considered that it gave the impression that the character was someone who had won lots of money by gambling.
In addition, the ad highlighted the man’s extreme wealth and gave the impression that it was something to aspire to, by challenging viewers to “beat this” in order to achieve prosperity. The ad suggested that, if they were up to the challenge and succeeded, viewers could live the extravagant lifestyle portrayed in the ad.
We considered that the overall impression of the ad was that the man’s wealth was derived from his gambling wins, which viewers could also achieve. We therefore concluded that the ad suggested that gambling could be a way to achieve financial security, which was a breach of the Code.
On this point, ad (a) breached BCAP Code rules
portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm
suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security
2. Not upheld
The BCAP Code stated that ads for gambling must not be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Therefore, gambling ads should not appeal more strongly to under-18s than to those viewers over 18.
We understood that the rap music was based on a 26-year-old hit song and therefore likely to be more memorable to an older audience. Similarly, although under-18s might recognise Verne Troyer, he was not representative of current youth culture and would be more familiar to viewers over 18. Furthermore, we considered that the style of the ad, which featured large mobile phones, unfashionable clothing and old style dance routines, was unlikely to be of particular appeal to today’s youth. We considered that the overall content of the ad was likely to appeal more strongly to viewers over the age of 18 and therefore concluded that it did not breach the Code.
On this point, we investigated ad (a) under BCAP rule
be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
3. Not upheld
Although the bottles were not labelled, we considered consumers would nonetheless expect them to contain alcohol and that they had been included in the ad, together with the models, to represent the boss character’s opulent life style. However, the bottles were incidental, establishing background and neither the boss nor the women were shown drinking or appeared to be inebriated or to be gambling under the influence of alcohol. We also considered that, although the women were glamorously dressed, they were not presented in a sexual way and there was nothing in the ad to link gambling to sexual success, seduction or enhanced attractiveness.
We therefore concluded that the ad had not irresponsibly linked gambling with alcohol or sexual success.
On this point, we investigated ad (b) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 16.1 16.1 Marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited. 16.3.1 16.3.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm and 16.3.8 16.3.8 link gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness (Gambling), but did not find it in breach.
The TV ad (a) must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Bgo Entertainment Ltd that their advertising must not suggest gambling could be a way to achieve financial security.