A TV ad showed different people seeing a bright light and then a shower of cash descending upon them. The voice-over stated, "This Saturday night, millions of pounds will be landing all over Britain, in the all-new Geo Lotto.com game. Go to GeoLotto.com now, claim your lucky place for just £1, and be in with a chance of winning up to one million pounds! You can choose anywhere - from a famous landmark to your own home. Of course, if you don't claim your lucky place, you can't win diddly. GeoLotto.com. Millions of pounds are coming. Don't miss out". Small on-screen text stated "Terms and conditions apply. Players must be aged 18 or over www.gambleaware.co.uk". Further on-screen text stated "GEOLOTTO.com … Online Tablet Mobile".
The complainant, who understood that the product was a gambling game, challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied it was a lottery.
Geo24 UK Ltd said they had never promoted a lottery. They explained that they were regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and operated under a Remote Operating Licence to operate a casino. They said they complied with responsible game provisions and were audited annually by GamCare. They said the ad clearly represented the key features of the game, including the cost of play, the top prize that could be won, the way in which the prizes were distributed across a grid of squares on a map of Great Britain, the timing of the game and the condition that participants should be aged 18 years or over. With reference to the latter condition, they pointed out that consumers had to be aged 16 or over to participate in the national lottery. They said they had included the Gamble Aware website link in the ad and did not believe the script or visual in the ad were likely to mislead about the key features of the game.
Clearcast said they were informed that the advertiser operated under a licence from the Gambling Commission and were not a lottery. They said the ad clearly explained the mechanism of the game and how the consumer won prizes. They pointed out that the Gamble Aware website link featured in the ad and explained that the ad was subject to scheduling restrictions, ensuring it was not broadcast around programming principally directed at or likely to appeal to audiences below the age of 18. They said that a reference to a lottery was only included in the title of the game, which reflected the random nature of placing a counter on a geographical square and potentially winning a prize. They said they did not believe the ad was misleading about the game or how it was played.
The ASA considered the claims "millions of pounds will be landing all over Britain", "claim your lucky place for just £1, and be in with a chance of winning up to one million pounds" and "millions of pounds that come in" in conjunction with the word "lotto" in the title of the game, which featured three times in the voice-over and once in the on-screen text, and the shots of bright lights shining down on various locations and showering people with money would give consumers the impression that the ad was promoting a lottery. We considered the on-screen text "£1 MILLION JACKPOT" over a visual of bright rays of lights descending upon various parts of a map of Great Britain also contributed to that impression. While we noted the on-screen text did include the Gamble Aware website link and said "players must be aged 18 or over", and the voice-over referred to a "game", we considered that the visuals, voice-over and on-screen text that associated the product with a lottery featured consistently throughout the ad and were more prominent. Because we considered the ad implied participants would be playing a lottery, not participating in a gambling game, we concluded it was misleading.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Advertisements must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. 3.3 3.3 Ofcom must ensure that the standards from time to time in force under this section include:
a) minimum standards applicable to all programmes included in television and radio services; and
b) such other standards applicable to particular descriptions of programmes, or of television and radio services, as appeared to them appropriate for securing the standards objectives."
Section 319(5). and 3.3.1 3.3.1 the main characteristics of the product or service (Misleading Advertising).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Geo24 UK Ltd to ensure future advertising did not misleadingly imply participants would be entering a lottery.