A sales promotion featured on a betting slip for Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming seen on 7 December 2015 and 22 February 2016 featured text, that stated “… BET £5+ OVER THE COUNTER ON FOOTBALL AND WE’LL GIVE YOU A SELF SERVICE £2 FREE BET ... £2 FREE BET INTRODUCING THE SPORTS GURU …”. At the bottom of the slip was further text that stated “… LADBROKES RULES APPLY …”.
Two complainants, who understood that the promotion was subject to availability, challenged whether that was made sufficiently clear in the betting slip.
Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd stated that the promotion was advertised on their website and on posters, which disclosed the signification condition “Promotion runs whilst stocks last”. Furthermore, they had instructed their betting shops that once they had run out of free bets, they were to replace the promotional advertising with the generic “Sports Guru Features” material, which made no reference to the offer. Referring to the betting slip, however, Ladbrokes acknowledged it did not state that the free bets were subject to availability and believed this could only have occurred because of an oversight by their marketing team.
Ladbrokes stated that their marketing team would in future ensure that all of the promotional material used in a campaign would include significant conditions and would not be limited to appearing on the main ads.
The ASA acknowledged Ladbrokes’ assurance that all their future promotional material would include significant conditions.
We noted that Ladbrokes had instructed their betting shops to remove the promotional material once they had run out of free bets. However, we understood that after the complainants had purchased their £5+ bets at Ladbrokes’ betting shops, they were unsuccessful in redeeming their free bets as the shops had run out of vouchers.
We noted at the bottom of the betting slip was text that stated “LADBROKES RULES APPLY”. However, the slip did not feature the condition that the offer was subject to availability, which we considered was material information that should have been made sufficiently clear in a qualifying statement at the very least. Therefore, we considered that the omission of such material information was so significant that it was likely to mislead consumers into understanding the claim, “BET £5+ OVER THE COUNTER ON FOOTBALL AND WE’LL GIVE YOU A SELF SERVICE £2 FREE BET” to mean that provided they made a bet of over £5 on a football match, they would be guaranteed to receive a £2 free bet. However, because that was not the case, we concluded that the promotional betting slip was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer 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 the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading Advertising), 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification), 8.1 8.1 Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions. 8.2 8.2 Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. 8.10 8.10 Promoters must be able to demonstrate that they have made a reasonable estimate of the likely response and either that they were capable of meeting that response or that consumers had sufficient information, presented clearly and in a timely fashion, to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate - for example regarding any limitation on availability and the likely demand. 8.11 8.11 If promoters rely on being able to meet the estimated response but are unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers and, in cases of any likely detriment, offer a refund or a reasonable substitute product. and 8.12 8.12 Promoters must not encourage the consumer to make a purchase or series of purchases as a precondition to applying for promotional items if the number of those items is limited, unless the limitation is made sufficiently clear at each stage for the consumer accurately to assess whether participation is worthwhile.
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd to ensure that all their promotional material used in a campaign included the applicable significant conditions where their omission was likely to mislead.