A TV ad for WHG (International) Ltd seen on 6 December 2017 featured a voice-over that stated, “Bet Boost from William Hill. Let’s you decide which odds you want to boost. All you need to do is select your market, go to your bet slip, hit boost and then place your bet at the boosted price …”.
Throughout the ad there was graphical content, including a smartphone which showed text that stated “13 May 15:00 Huddersfield Arsenal” and showed “Away” odds of “2/1”. Further text on the smartphone stated “13 May 15:00 Man Utd Watford” and showed “Home” odds of “2/1”.
The complainant, who noted that the advertised odds quoted in the ad were for football matches scheduled for 2018, challenged whether they were misleading.
WHG (International) Ltd t/a William Hill said that the football matches featured in the ad were for a date in the future and as such, the odds were for illustrative purposes.
William Hill, however, believed that the odds quoted in the ad were an accurate reflection of those that would be offered. They explained that the odds on offer were not for a straight win, but were for the selected teams to win and for both teams in each game to score – referenced in the industry as “match result and both teams to score”.
William Hill referred to current market odds that were on offer in the next round of premier league matches as they were not able to obtain the odds for the matches quoted in the ad because they were not yet available. They referred to the “Swansea v Arsenal” match, which showed that Arsenal were currently at odds of 9/4 to win at an “Away” game. William Hill said that was slightly higher than the odds of 2/1 quoted in the ad for the “Huddersfield v Arsenal” match, meaning that the chances of it occurring had a similar chance of happening. They believed that was a good comparison as in both matches Arsenal were playing away from home and against a team of a similar standard.
Clearcast said that the odds quoted in the ad were purely representative and solely meant to showcase the functionality of the app. Clearcast believed that viewers familiar with sports betting understood that odds fluctuated right up to the commencement of a sporting event. Posting of odds six months in advance of matches would, therefore, most likely mean that the quoted odds would represent figurative examples, rather than literal odds. Notwithstanding that, they considered that the quoted odds were an accurate reflection of those that would be offered.
The ASA noted the ad promoted a “Bet Boost” feature of the William Hill app, and did not promote any particular odds. The ad was seen in December 2017 and showed quoted odds for matches taking place six months later.
We considered that viewers would understand that odds for those games would not yet have been published at the time the ad was seen and would in any case not expect them to be capable of accurate prediction that far in advance.
In addition, the odds only appeared on screen for three seconds. The actual match outcomes to which they related were visible for even less time than that, which was likely to be too short a period for viewers to be able to process and consider them.
For those reasons we considered that viewers were likely to understand that the odds were for illustrative purposes used to promote William Hill’s “Bet Boost”, and were not actual odds that viewers could bet on.
Because we considered viewers would understand that the quoted odds were for illustrative purposes and did not represent actual odds on which viewers could bet, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead consumers.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule
The standards objectives, insofar as they relate to advertising, include:
a) that persons under the age of 18 are protected;
b) that material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder is not included in television and radio services;
c) that the proper degree of responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes;
d) that generally accepted standards are applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from inclusion in such services of offensive and harmful material;
e) that the inclusion of advertising which may be misleading, harmful or offensive in television and radio services is prevented;
f) that the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with [in particular in respect of television those obligations set out in Articles 3b, 3e,10, 14, 15, 19, 20 and 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC (the Audi Visual Media Services Directive)];
g) that there is no use of techniques which exploit the possibility of conveying a message to viewers or listeners, or of otherwise influencing their minds, without their being aware, or fully aware, of what has occurred"
Section 319(2). (Misleading advertising) but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.