Two TV ads for William Hill:
(a) The first ad featured various CGI effects and short, fast changing clips of footballers playing on a pitch with high paced music. The beginning of the ad showed a radar screen with seven red dots and one glowing yellow ball. Another scene showed a footballer flying into mid-air with smoke being emitted from his feet, and another was shown skidding on his knees on grass while leaving a trail of fire behind him. The ad also featured games, including an electronic pinball machine and table football.
(b) The second ad featured various CGI effects as well as short,fast changing clips of footballers playing on a pitch with high paced music. The beginning of the ad showed a shot of a mobile phone exploding and then a scene featuring a referee blowing into a whistle with animated air coming out of his mouth. Following these were scenes of an illuminated ball running through a pin ball machine, a footballer was shown in a red radar screen and two other footballers were shown about to collide into one another, followed by an explosion. Another footballer was shown jumping in the air with his number alight. The ad also featured various arcade style games, including an electronic pinball machine and a football themed shooting game.
The complainant challenged whether the ads were likely to be of particular appeal to children and were therefore irresponsible.
WHG (International) Ltd stated that before the ads were broadcast, they were provided with data by the artist who produced the music. That data showed that over 80% of the artist’s YouTube listeners were 18- to 44-year-old males, which was in line with WHG’s own target consumers of men who were 25 to 44 years of age.
WHG stated that the use of retro styled arcade games and comic graphics indicated that the ads were targeted at 25- to 44-year-old men. They believed that the graphics were associated with the era that their demographic could relate to and would find appealing. Furthermore, they believed that none of the graphics in the ads were reflective of modern-day youth culture and would not be of particular appeal to children.
WHG stated that the ads were intended to be “cool”, which was why they had used fast paced, visually pleasing content. They acknowledged that whilst the use of arcade style games might be reflective of youth culture 20 years ago, that was not however, the case today. Furthermore, they believed that the use of animation in the ad did not inevitably have direct appeal to children and young people.
Clearcast stated that they were initially concerned with the ad’s eye-catching scenes, particularly because it was loud, energetic and colourful. However, they considered that this was only likely to have general appeal to under-18s and nothing more. They stated that the bright colours and explosive effects were used to create a “pop art” look for the ad, rather than anything that could be particularly associated with young people.
Clearcast stated that pinball could not just be associated with today’s youth culture, as it was a fairly old game that was popular in the 1970s. Furthermore, they believed that it was now often seen as outdated by today’s youth. Clearcast took a similar view on arcade games, but acknowledged that children and under-18s still played on them. However, they stated that this did not mean that WHG could not show an arcade machine in their ads, since their target consumers had also played on them when growing up. Clearcast also stated that table football was another game that WHG’s target consumers might have played during their youth and might be likely to play now in a nostalgic way.
Clearcast stated that they ensured that no players in the ads resembled current international or Premiership players, as they considered this was likely to appeal to young people.
The BCAP Code stated that ads for gambling must not be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, 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, regardless of when they were broadcast.
The ASA noted that the ads included fast paced music and changing scenes as well as arcade/video game sound effects and computer generated images of explosions and footballers with super-hero like powers. Ad (a) featured a footballer flying into mid-air with smoke being emitted from his feet and another skidding on his knees on grass while leaving a trail of fire behind him. In ad (b), two footballers were shown running at a high speed and then in slow motion as they were about to collide into one another followed by an explosion, and another footballer was shown jumping into the air with his number alight. We considered that these scenes from both ads were likely to appeal to viewers aged under and over 18.
However, we noted that the ads featured games, including an electronic pinball machine, table football and a football themed shooting game. We considered that although these games were likely to have some appeal to under-18s, they would be primarily associated with the youth culture of previous generations. Furthermore, we considered that the images used in the ads, particularly in ad (b), had a “pop-art” effect, which again would be more familiar and appealing to viewers over 18.
Therefore, we considered that the overall content of the ads was likely to appeal more strongly to viewers over 18 and concluded that they did not breach the Code.
We investigated under BCAP Code rule
be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
(Gambling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.