In a TV ad for Foxy Bingo, an actor dressed as a fox wearing a suit and carrying a purple umbrella was shown walking on Brighton Pier in the rain. As he closed his umbrella he said "Come on, let's get foxy". The weather changed to sunshine and he was joined by a range of people performing a dance routine, riding a helter-skelter, a merry-go-round and rollercoaster to a revised version of "Get Happy!". Over the lyrics the fox stated "It's non-stop fun at FoxyBingo.com. Giddy up Gertie, yee-hah, woohoo. Find your fun at FoxyBingo.com and get five quid free."
The ASA challenged whether the ad, and the fox character in particular, was likely to be of particular appeal to those under-18 years of age.
Foxy Bingo said their fox character had always been aligned with adult, celebrity mainstream culture and traditional British innuendo, which they considered intentionally distinguished him and the Foxy Bingo brand from youth and youth culture. They said other marketing activities involved the fox character giving away a hair-removal product; an appearance in a glossy magazine; and a speed-dating event.
Foxy Bingo believed the fox character was not a particularly recognisable character for children; was not a youthful character; was not presented in a youthful environment; had never been a children's entertainment figure; and had never been aimed at, aligned with or used to promote anything that was considered part of youth culture. They accepted that anthropomorphic characters were more common in children's literature, but maintained that there were also multiple examples from adult entertainment. They believed that being a fox did not by itself mean that the character would have particular appeal to children. They were aware of other fox characters in traditional children's books and in CGI productions, but they considered there was no resemblance to the fox character in Foxy Bingo's ad.
Foxy Bingo considered the overall look and feel of the ad was similar to a 1950s film musical, but with a modern twist. They said Brighton Pier was chosen as the setting because of its appeal to all ages. While the pier and fun-fair could be considered to appeal to children, they did not consider they were of particular appeal to children and believed that the pier, given its historic association with British beach holidays, could be considered of greater appeal to the older generation. They considered the contemporary culture of the pier had a strong association with betting and gaming, video games and fruit machines, which they considered were of appeal to adults and not children. They said Clearcast had approved the ad for transmission with the restriction that it was not transmitted in or adjacent to children's programmes or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18.
Clearcast made similar points as to why the fox character was more aligned to adult culture and was unlikely to appeal particularly to children.
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. Gambling ads could not therefore appeal more strongly to under-18s than they did to over-18s.
The ASA noted that the scheduling restriction the ad had been given meant that it would not appear alongside material or images that might be similar in appearance and which were commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to under-18s. We accepted that aspects of the fox character's style, namely his purple coat and dandy walk upright on his hind legs, resembled a children's cartoon character (Mr Tod from the Beatrix Potter stories that were currently being broadcast on children's TV channels). However, we also considered that other aspects, such as his song-and-dance style, speaking voice and interaction with adults, were very distanced from the behaviour of the children's character. As such, we considered children were unlikely to identify the fox character as one from their own programmes or books or make a direct connection between those characters and the Foxy Bingo fox.
More broadly, we considered that the anthropomorphic nature of the fox character; the musical style of the ad and the seaside pier and fun-fair setting were all elements that were likely to have appeal for a wide age range, including children. However, we considered those elements, including the fox character, were unlikely to have particular appeal to under-18s. Because of that, and in light of the scheduling restriction imposed, we concluded that the ad was not in breach of the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule
be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
(Gambling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.