A national press ad for a lottery had a headline stating "Mortgage? What mortgage?". Text underneath stated "Now two chances to win £100K* ..."
The Gambling Reform & Society Perception Group (GRASP) challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because they believed the ad implied that participating in a lottery was a solution to financial concerns or a way to achieve financial security.
The Health Lottery Ltd explained that the ad was part of a series of ads based on the theme of what you could do with lottery winnings. The other ads in the campaign featured headlines such as "Love one of these" alongside a photo of a villa, "I took all of my family and friends to the Caribbean", "I paid for the grandkids to go to Uni", "Tell the building society where to stick its mortgage" and "Goodbye Rain, Hello Spain".
The ad quoted a top prize of £100,000 and The Health Lottery understood this was around the average mortgage value in the UK based on Credit Action's debt statistics dated August 2012. They said that offering options on how a lottery winner could spend their winnings was a standard advertising technique and in no way depicted participation in a lottery as a solution to financial concerns or a way to achieve financial security. In addition, they believed the top prize of £100,000 was set at a level that was too low to imply financial security.
The Daily Express confirmed they had not received any complaints about the ad. They said they believed the ad was suitable for publication and re-iterated the points made by The Health Lottery.
The ASA considered that the headline "Mortgage? What Mortgage?" implied someone who had participated in the lottery and won would be in a position to pay off their mortgage debt. We understood that for many people, their mortgage debt was substantial and was the largest debt they carried, and the option of paying that off would be viewed by many as a solution to their financial concerns as it would be a way out of debt. We noted The Health Lottery's comment that the top prize of £100,000 would not be enough to provide financial security but we disagreed. We considered that for some people, especially those with mortgage debt, £100,000 would offer a degree of financial security.
We understood The Health Lottery considered the ad did not depict participation in a lottery as a solution to financial concerns and that it simply described an example of what a winner could do with their winnings. However, we disagreed. We considered that because the ad suggested that someone who had won the lottery could pay off their debts, the implication was that participation in the lottery was a way of solving financial concerns or achieving financial security. We noted that the CAP Code stated "Marketing communications must not suggest that participating in a lottery can be a solution to financial concerns ... or a way to achieve financial security. Advertisers may, however, refer to other benefits of winning a prize". We considered that other benefits of a winning a prize included purchasing new goods or experiences, rather than paying off existing debts.
For these reasons, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible because it implied that participating in a lottery was a solution to financial concerns or a way to achieve financial security.
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. (Social responsibility) and 17.3 17.3 Marketing communications must not suggest that participating in a lottery can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security. Advertisers may, however, refer to other benefits of winning a prize. (Lotteries).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Health Lottery to take care not to imply in future ads that participating in a lottery was a solution to financial concerns or a way to achieve financial security.