It’s quite unusual to find that an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling on a gambling related product receives more than one complaint, but a Ladbrokes betting slip promotional offer received two recently.
The offending promotion was seen on two separate betting slips, one on 7th December 2015 and the other 22nd February 2016.
The offer text read
BET £5+ OVER THE COUNTER ON FOOTBALL AND WE’LL GIVE YOU A SELF SERVICE £2 FREE BET … £2 FREE BET INTRODUCING THE SPORTS GURU
At the bottom of the slip was further text that stated
LADBROKES RULES APPLY
Both complainants felt that as the Ladbrokes promotion was ‘subject to availability’ this should have been more clear on the betting slip.
The ASA investigated the complaints under the following CAP Codes:
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means.
Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions.
Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.
Promoters must be able to demonstrate that they have made a reasonable estimate of the likely response and either that they were capable of meeting that response or that consumers had sufficient information, presented clearly and in a timely fashion, to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate – for example regarding any limitation on availability and the likely demand.
If promoters rely on being able to meet the estimated response but are unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers and, in cases of any likely detriment, offer a refund or a reasonable substitute product.
Promoters must not encourage the consumer to make a purchase or series of purchases as a precondition to applying for promotional items if the number of those items is limited, unless the limitation is made sufficiently clear at each stage for the consumer accurately to assess whether participation is worthwhile.
Ladbrokes highlighted that the promotion in question was also advertised on posters and via their website where the significant condition was clearly shown – ‘Promotion runs whilst stocks last’.
Betting shops had been told that when the free bets had all been used, all promotional advertising was to be replaced with a generic offer that made no reference to the free bets deal.
However, on the betting slips Ladbrokes acknowledged that there was no indication that the offer was subject to availability and put this down to an oversight on the part of their marketing team.
They took their slap on the wrist very well and went on to say that all future promotions would use material that included significant conditions and that this would not be restricted to just the main ads.
Whilst Ladbrokes accepted they were in the wrong and the ASA took into account the acceptance of responsibility, they still had to have their ticking off and were found to be in breach of all the CAP Codes listed above.
They were told, as they had already said they would, to ensure that all promotional material shows the significant conditions of an offer.
You can read the full details of the Ladbrokes ASA ruling here.