The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled on January 3rd that a Halloween-themed ad posted by Buzz Bingo on Facebook last October was in breach of the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code). The advert in question was scrutinised for its potential to appeal to children on a platform frequented by individuals who are no older than 17, and it has since been removed.
The cartoon artwork of the post was deemed to be particularly problematic, seeing as it included animated pumpkin heads, bats, and other symbols associated with Halloween. The text of the promotion was stylised to appear as if it were made out of slime, which, along with the Halloween theme as a whole, was another cause for concern and among the main issues pointed out in the original complaint.
Buzz Group had been quick to respond to the complaint by removing the ad, and the company claimed that changes were being made to how its marketing campaigns are assessed and approved. The operator did not fail to point out, however, that the promotion had been reserved for those who were 25 or older and that Buzz Group had taken measures to restrict its page so that only Facebook users who were at least 18 would have been able to see the advert.
Buzz Bingo has a relatively clean record when it comes to its history of adhering to gambling regulations. This ruling, therefore, marks the first time Buzz Bingo has got into trouble with the ASA over an advertising campaign.
While the ASA commended Buzz Group for its swift response, the authority did point out several issues that served as reasoning for its decision to uphold the ruling. Firstly, Halloween as a holiday is of great interest to children, and, as mentioned previously, the artwork of the post resembled cartoon shows. In addition, the regulator noted that Facebook does not properly verify the age of its users during sign-up, which means that children could have been exposed to Buzz Group’s ad in spite of the operator’s page being age-restricted.
According to the ASA, the promotion would have been appropriate had it been posted on a platform known for its ability to ensure that gambling-related content is not something minors could be exposed to. As this was not the case, however, the ASA decided that the post did not adhere to the UK’s CAP Code, specifically rules CAP 16.1 and CAP 16.3.12. The former dictates that gambling advertisements need to be “socially responsible” when it comes to keeping children from being unintentionally targeted by such content. As for the latter, it outlines what exactly operators should avoid when it comes to marketing in relation to content that children might find appealing.
The ASA concluded by instructing Buzz Group to ensure that its future advertising campaigns will feature neither themes nor imagery that could be of interest to individuals aged 17 or younger. In addition, Buzz Group has been prohibited from reinstating the ad.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.