Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Not upheld.
A paid-for Facebook post, seen on 22 June 2016, and three TV ads, broadcast from September 2016, for Unibet. Each ad featured three men discussing the potential outcomes of sporting events and how various factors might influence the results:
a. The paid-for Facebook post featured a video in which the men were watching a football game. One of the men confidently predicted that Germany would win a penalty shoot-out and picked up his phone as if he was about to bet on his predicted outcome. His friends countered that prediction with factors they thought could influence the outcome, such as statistics about penalty shootouts and goal celebrations. The information presented by his friends persuaded the first man to bet differently. The video ended with the text “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE”.
b. In the first TV ad the men were watching a football game. One man confidently predicted that there would be lots of cards in the game and picked up his phone as if he was about to bet on that outcome. His friends countered his prediction based on factors which they thought could influence the outcome, such as the temperament of the players and the manager’s approach to discipline. The information presented by his friends persuaded the first man to bet differently. The ad ended with the on-screen text “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE”.
c. In the second TV ad the men were watching a cricket match. One man confidently predicted that the batter would score a century. One of his friends countered that he was betting on a run-out and the third friend commented “Good one. He’s going down” and picked up his phone to bet on that outcome. The men then discussed the factors they thought could influence the outcome, such as the decisions the batter might make due to his previous scores, the weather and his lack of knowledge of the Twelfth Man. The men laughed as the batter was run out. The ad ended with the on-screen text “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE”.
d. In the third TV ad the men were discussing a basketball game. One man confidently predicted which team would win. One of his friends said that he was instead backing one of the other team’s players to win more than a certain number of rebounds. The friends discussed various influencing factors, such as the players’ heights, arm spans and success at winning rebounds. The final whistle of the game was heard and the man who bet on the number of rebounds cheered. The ad ended with the on-screen text “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE”.
1. The complainant, who felt the strapline “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE” implied that it was possible to predict the outcome of sporting events and therefore that gambling did not involve an element of chance, challenged whether ad (a) was misleading.
The ASA challenged whether the strapline “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE” implied that gambling outcomes could be predicted and therefore whether:
2. ads (b), (c) and (d) were misleading; and
3. ads (a), (b), (c) and (d) were irresponsible.
1. – 3. Platinum Gaming Ltd, trading as Unibet, said that the ‘Luck Is No Coincidence’ campaign referred to their Sportsbook products, and the campaign was based on their brand value of ‘expertise’. They said the right preparation, research, and knowledge in sports could lead consumers to better informed betting which was mainly based on skill. Their philosophy, which was reflected in the ads, was that with the right preparation it was possible to influence luck, and therefore luck was not a coincidence.
They said the key to informed sports betting was information. The odds they offered to customers were based on the knowledge they had about the event in question, and so customers who had more information and better knowledge were able to assess Unibet’s odds against their own estimation of the probable outcome. An astute gambler could find opportunities where the bookie had misjudged the odds or where the collective guesswork of the gambling public was mistaken. They added that knowledge of the true value of a bet was not distributed evenly.
Unibet said they shared tips from expert tipsters with their customers and that by tracking their tipsters performance, they could prove that by following their advice consumers could improve their way of betting.
Unibet felt the ads were not misleading They did not believe that an average consumer would have acted differently after seeing them. They stressed that the strapline and the ads did not imply that gambling outcomes could be predicted, but rather that players could shift the odds in their favour if they learned how to use the information Unibet gave them.
Clearcast, responding in relation to the TV ads, endorsed Unibet’s response. They said they worked closely with the advertising agency throughout the clearance process, including meeting with them before scripts had been written. The agency explained that Unibet used ‘insights’ in their service so that customers were provided with more information and were therefore better informed when placing a bet. Clearcast believed those insights were no different from individuals studying horse racing form guides when deciding on which horse to bet. For that reason, Clearcast did not think that the ads were misleading or socially irresponsible.
Facebook, who were asked to respond on the issue of whether ad (a) was irresponsible only, said the ad was not in violation of their Advertising Policies.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA considered consumers would understand the message of the strapline “LUCK IS NO COINCIDENCE”, in the context of the ads, to be that when placing a bet on a sporting event, having more knowledge about those events, teams, individuals and other relevant identifiable factors could improve a gambler’s chances of predicting outcomes and thus winning more bets. We accepted that premise: that when compared to games of pure chance, having relevant information about sporting events may help consumers make more well-informed choices about their bets, therefore potentially leading to more wins.
We considered whether the ads implied that having such knowledge would eliminate the element of chance from sports betting, and therefore guarantee winning outcomes for gamblers. Although we noted each ad showed the knowledgeable friends either persuading the first man to bet differently, or predicting the correct outcome, we did not consider the ads went so far as to imply that having such knowledge would guarantee wins.
We therefore considered that consumers who saw the ads would understand the strapline as highlighting that better-informed bets might lead to a more favourable outcome, but that the element of chance was still involved and therefore that even well-informed bets were not guaranteed to win. On that basis, we concluded that consumers were unlikely to be materially misled by the ads into making decisions that they otherwise would not have taken about whether or not to gamble on sporting events.
On these points, we investigated ad (a) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), and ads (b), (c) and (d) under BCAP Code rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising), but did not find them in breach.
3. Not upheld
We acknowledged the need to market gambling products and services carefully, in order to minimise as far as possible the likely impact of such ads on children, young persons and other vulnerable persons, as well as to ensure that such ads were responsible to society as a whole.
The ads presented the three men discussing the sporting events in a casual, friendly manner, and only one man in each ad appeared to be motivated to actually place a bet. We considered the ads did not portray any gambling to excess, gambling as an addiction, or suggest there was pressure on any of the men to place a bet.
The ads promoted a particular attitude towards gambling on sporting events: that research and knowledge could result in better-informed sports betting and thus in gamblers potentially achieving better outcomes, albeit that chance still played a role. However we considered that message was not in itself socially irresponsible and we concluded the ads were unlikely to encourage irresponsible gambling or irresponsible attitudes towards gambling generally or amongst vulnerable consumers.
On these points, we investigated ad (a) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 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. (Gambling) and ads (b), (c) and (d) under BCAP Code rule 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising), but did not find them in breach.
No further action necessary.