A promoted tweet on Twitter for the gambling operator Fruity King was shown on 18 April and featured text that stated, “Arsene Whinger has suffered more abuse from Arsenal fans over the last 9 years than a Yemeni child slave in Saudi Arabia. FA-Cup".
The complainant, who objected to the use of an analogy relating to international child abuse with football, challenged whether the ad was offensive.
Total Odds Media Ltd t/a Fruity King stated that the promoted tweet was published by their advertising agency with whom they were no longer working. Fruity King apologised for any offence that the promoted tweet may have caused to the Yemeni community, but they did not believe that the tweet caused serious or widespread offence and that it was a tasteless joke with no malicious intent. They stated that the sponsored tweet was a one-off and that they had no plans to repeat it.
The ASA understood that there were reports of children, who were particularly vulnerable to slavery, being trafficked into neighbouring states. We therefore considered that comparing the amount of abuse a football manager received to that of a Yemeni child trafficked into slavery was entirely inappropriate for an ad and concluded that the promoted tweet was likely to cause serious and widespread offence.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and Offence).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Fruity King that they should take particular care when making reference to real world or current events to avoid causing serious or widespread offence.