For the most part, when it comes to the rulings published by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), we tend to nod our heads in agreement but sometimes we’ll find ourselves perplexed at the logic applied to an upheld complaint.
On 24th August we found ourselves feeling that way following an upheld complaint against Ladbrokes Casino.
Like many of the rulings from the ASA, just one complaint triggered the investigation and the complainant felt that and email that had been received held particular appeal to children.
The email was received on 4th May 2016 and advertised 10 free spins + 90 spins extra. It featured an image of Iron Man with the text “IRON MAN 3, enjoy this exclusive Ladbrokes welcome offer with Iron Man 3.
The moment we read the complaint, our instant thought was that it will have only been sent to consumers known to be over the age of 18, so how could it have appealed to a minor unless the adult who received the email showed it to them?
Ladbrokes defended their email by explaining just that – that the email was sent to registered customers or consumers that were known to be over the age of 18.
Additionally they said that evidence suggests that those following Marvel comics and superheroes in general were predominantly adults. Ladbrokes provided evidence of data based on attendance of Comic Con events and the Facebook demographics for the Marvel brand. The latter showed that the fan base under the age of 18 was just 6.39%.
Sometimes it can appear that all common sense goes out of the window and this looks to be the case in this ruling because the ASA found that the email breached the following CAP Codes!
Marketing communications must not:
be likely to be of particular appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
In their decision they suggest that the Facebook data was ‘skewed’ because Facebook users have to be 13+, therefore excluding younger children from the sample. They felt that Iron Man action figures and related merchandise were primarily aimed at younger children and this was supported by the fact that they were widely available at toy retailers.