THIS RULING REPLACES THE RULING PUBLISHED ON 26 JULY 2017 FOLLOWING INDEPENDENT REVIEW. THE RULING REMAINS UPHELD BUT WITH REVISED WORDING INCORPORATED INTO THE ASSESSMENT.
A TV ad for Coral, seen on 16 April 2017, featured several stylised clips of footballers playing football, including successfully taking risks and out-manoeuvring and out-playing defending footballers, against the background of a dramatic soundtrack. The voice-over stated, “The beautiful game you can watch it or you can get involved in it with the latest Coral action. So are you a spectator or are you a player? You decide. Coral. Get in on the action.”
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was harmful and irresponsible because they believed the voiceover implied only gamblers were true ‘players’ and that gambling was better than watching the sport.
Coral Interactive (Gibraltar) Ltd t/a Coral said they did not believe the ad was harmful or irresponsible in any way. They believed the voiceover was asking whether a viewer was
interested in having a bet as well as watching the match; this impression was supported by
the statement being followed by a specific featured bet, for example, “Liverpool to beat
Everton & both teams to score 5/1”.
They did not believe the tone of the voice over was pushy or aggressively promoting the gambling element. They believed it was a very straight and matter of fact read. They believed “You decide” was the key phrase in the voice over, which gave the viewer the option to make an informed choice. They did not believe there was pressure to place a bet or any implication that only gamblers were “true players”, thereby enhancing personal image. They said the phrase “Get in on the action” was a call to action following the featured bet for those interested in having a bet and this was not delivered in such a way that would imply a viewer would be a better person for taking part.
Clearcast said they neither believed the ad encouraged the viewer to stop watching the sport and gamble instead, nor did they feel that this was implied. They believed the ad asked a question, whether the viewer was a spectator or a player, with the following screen being the offer. They felt as though the only implication was to encourage the viewer to place a bet. They did not think this meant that the viewer would have to stop watching the sport, or that gambling was in fact better than watching sport. They believed it conveyed the point of being able to watch sport (spectator) but also to place a bet at the same time (player). They believed that the ad only encouraged viewers to take part in a bet and only if they wanted to; this was highlighted with the use of “you decide”. They were satisfied that the advertisement was socially responsible.
The ASA considered that the overall tone of the ad implied that gambling was more exciting than being a spectator.
We noted the view that the voice-over was not pushy or aggressively promoting the gambling element and that it was matter of fact in its presentation. However, we considered the emphasis given to the term “player” in the voice-over, which we understood was a colloquialism referring to a successful person, contributed to the overall impression that gambling could lead to personal success and enhance personal qualities. We also considered the stylised shots of the footballers implied that the gambler was equivalent to the successful player. Further, the phrase “Get in on the action” reinforced the impression that it was better to gamble than merely spectate and/or that gambling was a better alternative to watching the match, implying those who gambled were more involved or invested or had a stake in in the game and in doing so disparaged those who were not.
We concluded the ad was likely to suggest peer pressure to gamble, disparage abstention and suggest that gambling could enhance personal qualities and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.
(Social Responsibility) and
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 17.3.5 17.3.5 suggest peer pressure to gamble or disparage abstention (Gambling).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Coral to ensure that their advertising did not condone an irresponsible attitude towards gambling and did not suggest peer pressure to gamble, disparage abstention or unduly suggest that gambling could enhance personal qualities.