Rulings on the ‘strong appeal test’ for gambling ads featuring TV personalities.

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MediaWrites has previously reported on ASA rulings in relation to sporting personalities and the strong appeal test. We have previously reported on other ASA rulings, including the BetUK radio advert featuring Adebayo Akinfenwa  and the Bet365 advert featuring Chris Eubank Jr.

 

The ASA has published a new ruling in relation to a TV ad for The Peoples Postcode Lottery featuring TV personality Emma Willis. Although the ruling was not upheld, it nevertheless provides evidence that sporting personalities are not the only group who are at risk of investigation by the ASA in relation to the strong appeal test.

 

Ruling

Postcode Lottery Ltd stated that they did not believe Emma Willis to be someone who has a strong appeal to people under the age of 18 for the following reasons:

 

  • Analysis of data: BARB data for “The Voice” and the ‘The Voice Kids’, which Emma presented, demonstrated that these programmes were not of a strong appeal to children.
  • Social media: a breakdown of Emma’s social media followers aged between 13 and 17 found that only 0.7% on Instagram and 0.2% on Facebook were within the relevant age range.
  • Previous ASA rulings: The Postcode Lottery referred to two previous ASA rulings in which individuals with similar profiles to Ms Willis had not been proven to be of a strong appeal to those under 18.

 

The ruling was finalised on the 1st of May 2024. The ASA investigated under BCAP Code rule 18.5 but did not uphold the ruling. The ASA gave the following reasons:

 

  • Analysis of data: the ASA assessed the appeal of TV shows that featured Ms Willis including ‘Big Brother’ ‘This Morning’ and ‘The Voice’. Despite programmes like ‘The Voice’ being coined as perfect for family viewing, BARB data proved that all her shows were more popular with audiences aged 55 and above than they were to children.
  • Social media: as mentioned previously, 0.7% of her Instagram followers were aged between 13 and 17, which equated to 13,812 followers. On Facebook, 0.2% of her followers were between the ages of 13 and 17, this equated to 1344 followers. The ASA did not determine these figures to be significant in absolute terms, they felt the figures did not suggest she had a strong appeal among under 18s.
  • Commercial relationships: Emma Willis had several commercial relationships with adult-focused brands such as Gilette Venus, Oral B and Marks & Spencer. Her close affiliation with these adult focused brands, in the ASA’s opinion, further reinforced the impression that she does not have a strong appeal among under 18s.

 

What are the key lessons?

Here are some key take-aways from the ruling:

 

Sporting personalities are not the only group that may fall foul of the strong appeal test.

Sporting personalities such as footballers and boxers have been the specific focus of previous ASA rulings. This ruling, alongside the recent ruling relating to Chris Rock, displays a shift from this targeted group highlighting that general TV personalities are also at risk of investigation by the ASA.

 

General TV personalities may be the safer option to include in gambling ads.

Whilst recent rulings provide evidence that the ASA are keeping a closer eye on general TV personalities in relation to the strong appeal test, it is key to note that the rulings for Chris Rock and Emma Willis were not upheld hinting that the ASA is less likely to see this category as strongly appealing in comparison to sporting personalities.

 

Social media followings are just as important as career profiles.

This ruling continues the trend of the ASA evaluating social media statistics and career profiles to ascertain the appeal of individuals used in ads. If the ASA deems one of these categories to carry a strong appeal, then the ruling is likely to be upheld. Careful consideration should be given to these categories when deciding on whether it is appropriate to feature an individual in a gambling ad.

 

The full ruling can be found here.

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