A TV ad for Happy Tiger Bingo, seen in October and November 2023, featured a testimonial by a man described in on-screen text as a “POSTGRADUATE STUDENT”. He stated “The most fun game on Happy Tiger for me has to be the bingo games. Just because of the bingo flash feature, like it's exciting, obviously, trying to get one line, two lines, three lines, but when the Bingo flash appears, and you see that £2,500 it’s like, yeah I wanna [sic] get that. So yeah, it's really fun because you're more involved with it, but it's not overly complicated or anything like that.”
The complainant challenged whether the ad breached the Code because it featured someone who seemed to be, or who was, under 25 years of age.
Happytiger ApS t/a Happytiger provided proof of date of birth for the featured individual and confirmed that he was 25 years old at the time of filming. They believed he did not have any features which made him appear younger than his actual age, and the on-screen text, which identified him as a “postgraduate student”, was unlikely to suggest to the audience that he was under 25 years old.
Clearcast confirmed that they had verified the age of the individual prior to approving the ad. They acknowledged that the on-screen text “postgraduate student”, may have indicated to viewers that he was younger than 25 because he was still in education. However, because the ASA had received only one complaint, they believed that it was not a widespread interpretation and the majority of viewers understood that he was 25 years old.
The BCAP Code stated that gambling ads must not feature anyone who was, or seemed to be, under 25 years old gambling or playing a significant role.
The ASA acknowledged that the individual featured in the ad was 25 years old at the time of filming. However, we considered that he had a youthful appearance. We noted that he appeared self-conscious and often used filler words, such as “obviously”, “like” and “so yeah”. We considered that viewers would associate his speaking style and body language with youth and immaturity, and along with his youthful appearance, that was likely to give the impression that he was under the age of 25.
We noted the on-screen text “postgraduate student”. We understood that students in the UK typically began a bachelor’s degree between the ages of 17 and 19 and that qualification was usually completed in three or four years. While people of different ages undertook postgraduate studies, we considered viewers were likely to interpret his status as a post-graduate student to mean he was in his early twenties. We therefore considered that text reinforced the impression that he was under the age of 25.
For those reasons, we concluded that the ad featured someone who seemed to be under the age of 25 and therefore breached the Code.
The ad breached BCAP Code rule 17.4.6 (Gambling).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Happytiger Aps t/a Happytiger not to feature anyone in their ads who was, or seemed to be under 25 years old, for example, through their physical appearance, behaviour or occupational status.