An email from Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd, received on 4 May 2016, stated “Ladbrokescasino [sic] … 10 FREE SPINS + 90 SPINS EXTRA”. The ad featured an image of Iron Man with the text “IRON MAN 3 … Enjoy this exclusive Ladbrokes welcome offer with Iron Man 3”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because he believed it was likely to be of particular appeal to children.
Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd (Ladbrokes) said that all of their email offers were sent to either registered customers or to consumers who they knew were over 18 years of age. Therefore, they said that the image would not have been sent to any children or young people and because of that the ad would not be able to appeal to those under 18.
Ladbrokes said that the image was adult themed and was reflective of popular culture. Furthermore, they said evidence indicated that followers of Marvel comics and superheroes were predominantly adults. They said that was supported by data on attendance at Comic Con events and Facebook demographics for the Marvel brand. They said the latter source showed that the Marvel brand fan base for under 18-year-olds was 6.39%, with the predominant proportion falling within the 18 to 37 year old bracket.
The ASA noted the CAP Code stated that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. We understood that the email was sent only to over-18s. However, we considered that the content nevertheless should not have particular appeal to children or young persons.
We considered the information related to ‘appeal’ provided by Ladbrokes. We understood that Comic Con events were generally aimed at adults, and incorporated comic books generally (rather than only Marvel or Iron Man), as well as other films and science fiction/fantasy literature. While we also noted the evidence related to the Marvel brand, we understood that all Facebook users must declare themselves to be at least 13 years old, thus excluding younger children from the sample. We considered those younger children were likely to be the primary audience for Iron Man action figures and related merchandise, which we understood were widely available at toy retailers.
We understood that Iron Man was a popular character that would appeal to many adults but considered its comic book nature, and the availability of various related toys, meant it was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 16.3 16.3 Marketing communications must not: and 16.3.12 16.3.12 be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture (Gambling).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd not use images that were likely to be of particular appeal to children or young people in future gambling ads.