Online gambling marketers should again take note of the UK Advertising Standards Association's sensitivity to ads that might appeal to the underaged following its latest bans.
A six figure integrated TV, radio, press and online advertising campaign crafted by the JDA agency for Tombola Bingo was dislocated following a complaint that the material might appeal to youngsters.
The full details are published at http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_45996.htm, but in essence there were issues with two ads in the campaign.
The first ad showed "Tombola world" which was populated by an assortment of fairground attractions, including a ferris wheel, a big top and a rollercoaster. Animated, brightly coloured bingo balls were shown on each of the different rides and bouncing around the fairground. On-screen text at the start of the ad stated "18+. Terms apply. £10 deposit required. gambleaware.co.uk". The voice-over said "Every day, thousands of people join in the fun at Tombola.co.uk. With over 35 chat rooms to choose from, you can join the ride, make new friends and play your favourite bingo games. Plus join now for more chances to WIN with up to £25 Money Match!". The voice-over continued "tombola.co.uk where the fun goes on and on". The claim was repeated as on-screen text.
The second ad showed the same fairground scene with the brightly coloured, animated bingo balls. It also featured a hot air balloon and a ‘battleship'. On-screen text at the start of the ad stated "18+. Terms apply. £10 deposit required. gambleaware.co.uk". The voice-over said "With loads of great prizes to be won, thousands of people are joining in the fun at tombola.co.uk. We've got exclusive games you won't find anywhere else. Play longer for less with Bingo-lite from just 2p a ticket. See if you can sink the fleet with Battleships. Why not try your hand with Cinco? Or stick to your favourite bingo games. Plus join now for more chances to WIN with up to £25 Money Match!". The voice-over continued "tombola.co.uk where the fun goes on and on". The claim was repeated as on-screen text.
The complaint was that the content of the material was such that it would appeal to minors.
Tombola protested that its intention had been to create ads that acted as a metaphor for the online bingo experience and which would attract new bingo players but not attract a younger audience. The ads had been running for some weeks without any complaints, and the company had no interest in targeting or appealing to under 18s; the ads were targeted on an adult audience and the company took rigorous steps to ensure that under 18s were unable to play on the Tombola site.
Nevertheless, the ruling went against the group, and the ads were banned.