A regional press ad, which featured in the Metro, for an online casino showed an image of Optimus Prime from Transformers holding up a sign, which stated "£30,000 WILL BE WON THIS WEEK ... TRANSFORMERS ... BATTLE FOR CYBERTRON ... PLAY NOW FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN!". Text beneath the sign stated "EXCLUSIVE BONUS - DEPOSIT £5 AND PLAY WITH £15 ... PROMO CODE: JACKPOT. PLAY NOW!".
Two complainants challenged whether the use of a character from a popular toy brand was irresponsible for a gambling product and likely to appeal to under 18-year-olds.
Metro Play Ltd said that they looked to include all new releases in their marketing campaigns, especially big name brands. They said that they understood that there might be concern about using a popular toy brand to promote online gambling, but pointed out that the character was highly relevant to the online slot. They said that the small print on the ad stated that the offer was only available to over 18-year-olds. They said that they had taken the decision not to publish any Transformers, Battle of Cybertron advertising in the future. They said they would ensure that future marketing communications avoided using characters that might appeal to under-18s.
The ASA acknowledged that the small print on the ad stated that the offer was only available to over-18s. We also noted that Metro Play were willing to stop advertising for Transformers, Battle of Cybertron, and ensure that future marketing communications did not use characters that might appeal to under-18s. However, the Code stated that marketing communications for gambling products should not be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. We noted the ad appeared in an untargeted medium, a regional press newspaper, which was available to both under-18s and adults. We considered that the depiction of the toy brand character was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people. Because of that, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Compliance) and 16.1 16.1 Marketing communications for gambling must be socially responsible, with particular regard to the need to protect children, young persons and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited. and 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 in its current form. We told Metro Play Ltd not to use characters or images that were likely to appeal to under-18s.