A TV ad for gambling operator Kwiff, seen on 9 June 2018. The beginning of the ad included a screen with text that stated “PLAYERS OF THE SEASON”. The ad then showed a number of Kwiff customers discussing their experiences: “I’ve been Kwiffed many times”, “It’s quite a buzz actually”, “It’s was a 5/1 that got ‘kwiffed’ to 100/1”, “Wow”, “It’s like winning twice”, “Yep, the app is great. It’s really easy to use”, “My phone’s buzzing on the table. Yeah, it’s exciting”, “I jumped up. 250/1. I just thought ‘Magic!’”, “When you first see it, like, start rolling over and you think it’s going to stop, and then it just keeps going. You’re like, wow, happy days”. On-screen text and voice-over at the end of the ad stated “Kwiff … The only sports betting app where any bet could be supercharged”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad portrayed, condoned or encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.
Eaton Gate Gaming Ltd t/a Kwiff said the ad was intended to show how real customers felt and experienced the app and it did not present gambling in any way that could be considered irresponsible. They stated that a number of customers were selected for the filming of the TV ad. They did not specifically target men when recruiting customers for the ad. They stated that of all the responses they received, none were from women, and those who were featured were selected from an accurate representation of their typical customer base. Half of the selected customers were above the age 47; the other half were aged between 25 and 28 years old.
Kwiff stated that the selected customers were first asked questions about themselves and then questions about their experience in using the app, and their response to those questions were filmed. Kwiff said the featured customers had not been coached and the testimonials were not scripted. They provided signed letters to Clearcast during the clearance process confirming that the customers' answers accurately reflected their opinions of the app. They addressed the complainant's concerns; they did not consider the ad implied that the customers were 'glued to the app', and the reference to 'buzzing' was in no way glorifying betting.
Clearcast stated that the ad featured real life testimonials about customers' experience of the Kwiff betting app. They stated that there were only two references to "exciting" and other references in the ad – "keeps going", "rolling over" and "winning twice" – all related to the 'supercharge' feature offered and advertised by Kwiff. They also said the reference to "buzzing" was the app alerting a customer to a win, like a text. They stated that those testimonials were real experiences gained from using the app, rather than a scripted experience to entice users to play irresponsibly. Clearcast also stated that the ad carried the required “Please bet responsibly” message throughout the duration of the ad and they did not feel that the ad encouraged people to gamble irresponsibly or that it could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.
The ASA noted that each of the customers featured in the ad were men and that some appeared to be in their late 20s or early 30s. We understood that younger men (aged 18–34) were at heightened risk of irresponsible gambling behaviour, and we considered that ads which appealed to that audience – in this case by suggesting that a number of people who used the app were of that age – needed to take particular care in their messaging.
The ad used customer testimonials to explain how the app worked, including that it could result in odds for certain events being boosted. While we understood that the men were describing why using the Kwiff app was more fun than betting with other operators, the sole purpose of the app was to facilitate gambling. We therefore considered that statements regarding the excitement of using the app were also statements about the excitement of gambling.
Throughout the ad, the men made statements such as “It gives you quite a buzz actually", “My phone’s buzzing on the table. Yeah, it’s exciting”, “It's like winning twice”, “I jumped up. 250/1. I just thought ‘Magic!’” and “When you first see it, like, start rolling over and you think it’s going to stop, and then it just keeps going …”. We noted that the wording “buzz”, in particular, was commonly associated with the experience of problem gambling. We considered that the overall impression of the ad condoned and encouraged betting in ways that could be financially, socially and emotionally harmful, by associating it with problem gambling, and we concluded that the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 17.3.1 17.3.1 portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm (Gambling).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Kwiff to ensure in future that they did not condone or encourage betting in ways that could be financially, socially or emotionally harmful.