A TV ad for Paddy Power, seen in August 2017, featured a jaded casino security guard singing to the tune of “Papa Loves Mambo” while watching through monitors the casino customers gambling. He then turned away from the monitors and was shown gambling on Paddy Power on his mobile phone as the song continued. The song stated “Watching ‘em gamble from a sneaky camera angle. Yeah, look at ‘em play on it; spinning away on it, they’re rubbing my face in it now. Still I can’t grumble. I’ll have a cheeky little dabble. Yeah I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break, the daily jackpot’s looking great now.” The mobile phone displayed on-screen text which stated “Average Daily Jackpot £13,788 … Sign Up And Get 10 Free Spins” while a voice-over stated, “Our daily jackpot must be won by midnight. Sign up and get ten free spins. Paddy Power games. You beauty.”
Two complainants challenged whether the ad was socially irresponsible because it implied it was acceptable to gamble in the workplace.
Power Leisure Bookmakers Ltd t/a Paddy Power said they did not believe they had breached the BCAP Code. They said the ad was set in a casino because Paddy Power Games offered online casino games. They highlighted that BCAP rule 17.4.3 stated that “Advertisements for gambling must not condone or feature gambling in a working environment (an exception exists for licensed gambling premises)” and as casinos were licensed gambling premises, they believed that exception applied. They did not believe it was socially irresponsible to advertise a gambling product in a casino.
Further they said the main character was a security guard who worked at the casino, monitoring the CCTV footage of the casino floor. They said although the character looked slightly bored, he actively carried out his employment duties at all relevant times and only picked up his mobile phone and used the Paddy Power Games product when he said “… when I’m on break”. That line was deliberately included to explain that the security guard was on a permitted break from work, which was also indicated because he turned away from his desk and was shown holding/eating a sandwich (a common activity when on a break). They said they did not believe that using a mobile phone, even to place bets, when on a permitted rest break was socially irresponsible.
They said the character described his betting activity as “a cheeky little dabble” and “I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break” and was only shown spinning the online slot once, which did not suggest that the character was betting to excess or for an extended period of time. They believed the overall tone of the ad did not encourage behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.
Clearcast said they advised the agency and the advertiser that the ad should clearly show that the security guard was on a break, and he should not be shown gambling whilst he was meant to be working. They believed it was clear that he stopped working to have a bet, because he turned away from his desk, whilst eating a sandwich. They said the voice-over line “… when I’m on break” added to that impression.
They believed the ad did not show the character gambling to excess. They considered the only difference between this ad and other ads which showed gambling products and people placing a bet was that this ad featured the character in his place of work. Furthermore, the character was clearly on his break and they understood the BCAP code did not stipulate that ads must not feature people gambling when on a break in the workplace.
Clearcast did not think that the ad condoned or encouraged gambling, that it was socially irresponsible or that it could lead to financial, social or emotional harm, as the character placed a quick bet whilst clearly being on his break.
The ASA noted the view that because Code rule 17.4.3 stated that “an exception exists for licensed gambling premises” and the casino featured in the ad was a licensed gambling premises, it was therefore acceptable that the ad featured the character gambling in his working environment. However, we considered the purpose of the rule was to prevent ads normalising or condoning gambling in working environments. In that context we considered the exception was included to make clear that although it is acceptable to depict customers gambling in the licensed premises, the licensed premises would be considered a working environment for other people, i.e. premises staff. We considered the exception did not extend to allowing the depiction of licensed premises staff gambling in their own working environment.
The character was shown supervising a casino environment from his office, where croupiers could be seen working alongside casino customers. The character was then shown turning away from his workstation, without leaving his working environment or being relieved of his professional responsibilities by another colleague; we considered the overall impression was that he was still at work. We therefore considered that the ad featured gambling in a working environment.
Because the ad featured gambling in a working environment, which was prohibited under the BCAP Code, we considered the ad portrayed gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules 17.3.1 and 17.4.3 (Gambling).
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form. We told Paddy Power to ensure their ads did not feature gambling in a working environment.