A website promoting charity scratchcards, www.rieves.co.uk, seen on 2 July 2018, featured images of several scratchcards:
a. One called "Queen Bee" featured a cartoon-like image of a bee wearing a crown and ruffle, standing next to a castle.
b. One called "Christmas Kisses" featured cartoon-like images of snowmen.
c. One called "Snow Dough" also featured cartoon-like images of snowmen.
d. One called "Piggy Payout" featured a cartoon-like image of a pig.
e. Another called "Lucky Shamrock" featured a cartoon-like image of a fairy which resembled a leprechaun standing next to a rainbow.
The complainant challenged whether the graphical content in ads (a) to (e) was likely to be of particular appeal to children.
Rieves Lotteries Ltd said their website was a reference-only website, which provided players with further information about specific games they had purchased in shops – e.g., the odds of winning a prize, the prize amounts available and the expiry dates of their games. Their products were sold in shops and were not available to purchase online. They said the images of their scratchcards were featured on their website to make it easier for customers to identify the scratchcards they had purchased and to search for further information about those scratchcards. They did not believe the images constituted marketing or advertising.
They said it was not in their interest to target the young or vulnerable. They believed their games did not have particular appeal to children. They said they used generic animated stock imagery to reflect either the season (e.g., snowmen) or other character based imagery (e.g., pigs, bees and leprechauns).
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. Gambling ads could not therefore appeal more strongly to under-18s than they did to over-18s.
We considered that the bright, colourful designs in the ads and cartoon-like imagery were likely to appeal to children. In particular, in relation to ad (a) we noted that the image of the queen bee was highly stylised with exaggerated features, for example, large eyes and eyelashes. We considered that the bee was therefore depicted in a cute manner that was likely to appeal to children. Furthermore, we noted that the ad featured a castle and crowns, which we considered were icons associated with fairy tales and were therefore likely to be attractive to children.
We noted that ads (b) and (c) featured snowmen, an icon that we considered was particularly associated with youth culture. We also noted that the snowmen were depicted in a smiley, cute and cuddly manner, and considered that was likely to appeal to children.
We considered that the name of ad (d), "Piggy Payout", was likely to appeal to under-18s. We also considered that the colourful and exaggerated cartoon-like image of a smiling pig with a large belly was likely to strengthen that appeal to children.
We noted that ad (e) featured a fairy-like character who was dressed as a leprechaun, holding a shamrock-shaped wand and appeared to be flying next to a brightly-coloured rainbow. There were shimmery sparkles surrounding the fairy which appeared to be fairy dust. The fairy had been designed to look like a child, and had large eyes and rosy cheeks. We considered that because fairies and rainbows were popular amongst young children, particularly girls, and because of the character's cute and child-like depiction, the image was likely to be of particular appeal to children.
For those reasons, we concluded that the ads, which marketed gambling products, were likely to appeal more strongly to under-18s than to over-18s and therefore breached the CAP Code.
Ads (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 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 16.3.12 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 ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Rieves Lotteries Ltd to ensure their ads for gambling products did not have particular appeal to under-18s.