ASA Checklist: Euro 2024

With UEFA Euro 2024 rapidly approaching, many businesses will be increasing their marketing output to try and attract new customers in the context of a major national event. With this in mind, the ASA has published some marketing tips for Euro 2024, identifying ad features which are likely to fall foul of the ASA codes. Here we summarise the ASA’s tips and consider how businesses can ensure compliance with advertising regulation in the context of Euro 2024.

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Regulatory context

The ASA codes consist of:

  • the broadcast code (BCAP Code), which applies to advertising via broadcast media i.e. radio and TV; and
  • the non-broadcast code (CAP Code), which applies to all other media.

For the purposes of Euro 2024 both codes will be highly relevant, as both channels will offer  marketers the opportunity to reach a wide base of prospective customers.

Endorsements

The ASA codes contain general prohibitions on misleading advertising (CAP and BCAP Code, 3.1) and specific rules which focus on particular practices, such as the inclusion of fake endorsements in marketing communications (CAP and BCAP Code, 3.45).

The ASA has indicated that it will be scrutinising adverts framed within the context of Euro 2024 where such these contain endorsements, which might include any claims that a product is an “official” product of a national team, tournament or governing body. To avoid breaching the ASA codes, marketers should:

  • ensure that any testimonials from players or teams are genuine. Unofficial endorsements should not be included in any marketing content unless publishing the endorsement has been agreed contractually;
  • retain documentary evidence to support any endorsements, such as sponsorship agreements which have been concluded with the player or team; and
  • avoid using unlicensed third party IP in advertisements, as this runs the risk of implying an indirect endorsement of the advertised product where the endorsement has not been agreed contractually.

Stereotypes

Euro 2024 involve nations competing against each other to take home the trophy, with their nations rallying behind them. Within this context it is normal for marketers to include portrayals of competing nations in their adverts. Whilst this may be an effective marketing tool, the ASA has flagged that advertisements must not fall foul of any prohibitions on causing serious or widespread offence, particularly on any grounds relating to race (BCAP and CAP Code, 4.1).

To avoid any ASA sanctions, marketers should ensure that the following practices are adopted:

  • references to competing teams should be framed in general terms and should not incorporate any national stereotypes, particularly where these may be interpreted offensively; and
  • adverts should not be overtly adversarial, as not only will such advertisements be more likely to cause widespread offence but they may also be seen to be encouraging violence or anti-social behaviour which is also prohibited and warned against by the ASA (BCAP Code, 4.9; CAP Code, 4.4).

Gambling

Gambling is specifically regulated by the ASA Codes (CAP Code Rule 16; BCAP Code Rule 17). Those following Mediawrites’ updates on ASA rulings regarding gambling advertisements featuring sports personalities will be aware that the ASA is heavily scrutinising gambling ads at present. Operators will need to be particularly sensitive to issues surrounding Euro 2024, as this will be a large tournament with many under-18 viewers.

As such, operators need to take particular care and should ensure they comply with the following practices:

  • footballers under 25 should in no circumstances appear in gambling ads (BCAP, 17.4.6; CAP Code, 16.3.14); and
  • any footballers appearing in ads must not be, or be likely to be, of strong appeal to under 18s (BCAP Code, 17.4.5; CAP Code, 16.3.12). To achieve this, operators should:
    • avoid using high profile athletes, such as England stars or Premier League players;
    • heavily vet the individual appearing in the advert, for example by checking their social media following amongst under 18s; and
    • as a final protection, avoid using broadcast media where possible and instead limit advertising to age-gated platforms, which may exclude social media given the flexibility of age verification requirements on such platforms.

Alcohol

Alcohol is an age restricted product which is also specifically regulated by the ASA (CAP Code, 18; BCAP Code, 19). The ASA will scrutinise alcohol advertisements heavily during Euro 2024, so marketers will need to pay particular heed to the ASA’s advice. Particular practices to follow include ensuring:

  • excessive drinking is not encouraged and the advert is presented in a socially responsible manner (CAP Code 18.1; BCAP Code 19.2);
  • the advert is not targeted at or is, or is likely to be, particularly appealing to people under 18 (CAP Code, 18.14; BCAP Code, 19.16.1). Though compliance with this rule is easier than compliance with the rules for gambling adverts (which must not be of strong appeal to under 18s i.e. the appeal to adults of the gambling advert is not a material consideration), marketers should err on the side of caution and ensure adverts do not appeal to youth culture generally; and
  • the advert does not imply that alcohol could contribute to sporting achievement (CAP Code, 18.7) or suggest sporting activities have been undertaken after alcohol has been consumed (CAP Code, 18.12; BCAP Code, 19.13).

Conclusion

Euro 2024 is a key opportunity for marketers to enhance their brand coverage in the context of an event of national significance. However, marketers, particularly those concerned with age restricted products such as gambling and alcohol, will be under particular scrutiny from the ASA. Following the rules outlined in this article will help to ensure marketers remain onside with the ASA throughout Euro 2024.

Elizabeth is a Partner in our Commercial Department and a member of our Media, Entertainment & Sport Group, based in London. Elizabeth concentrates her practice on the gambling and sports sectors, and has particular experience advising on online gambling regulation and a broad range of commercial gambling and sports matters.
Callum is an Associate in our Commercial Department, based in London. Callum advises clients across the gambling, sports, media and entertainment sectors on regulatory, transactional and commercial matters.

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