Last week, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) investigated and subsequently upheld three issues in relation to an Instagram story on the page of the television personality and social media celebrity, Sam Gowland.
The story in question was for Thebettingman, a gambling advice service. It included several captions extolling the virtues of Thebettingman’s service, such as “Best second source of income I’ve ever had … hence the new car I’m getting … not bad for £25”, and swiping up took users to their website.
The following challenges were brought:
- The complainant challenged whether the ad was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication.
- The ASA challenged whether the ad was irresponsible for suggesting that the use of betting tipsters could achieve financial security.
- The ASA also challenged whether the ad featured a person under 25 years of age to promote a gambling advice service.
In response to the challenge, TBM Enterprises and Thebettingman argued that they did not ask Mr. Gowland to post the story, but conceded that the post should have included the appropriate hashtags (#ad / #18+ / #gambleresponsibly) and these would be included in future stories. Mr. Gowland stated that the story was a promotional post and he would label all future ads appropriately.
First, the ASA considered that despite the story featuring both Mr. Gowland encouraging users to use the service and a link to Thebettingman’s website, it did not indicate to users that it was a marketing communication before they engaged with its content. In the absence of a clear and prominent identifier on the story itself (e.g. #ad), the story was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and so was in breach of the CAP Code’s provisions on the recognition of marketing communications.
Second, the ASA acknowledged that Thebettingman’s service was not gambling, but the provision of tips on sporting bets. As a result, the ASA evaluated the ad as one which facilitated gambling. It considered that the claims “£450 quid up this weekend and over £1k up for the week” along with the description of the service as a second source of income implied that users would win large sums both quickly and regularly. The ASA held that this implied that Thebettingman’s service could achieve financial security. Because the service facilitated gambling, the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the CAP Code’s provisions on social responsibility.
Third, the ASA understood that Mr. Gowland was 24 years old at the time the ad was seen. As it featured a young person under the age of 25 promoting a betting tipster service which facilitated gambling, the ad was irresponsible and once again in breach of the CAP Code’s provisions on social responsibility.
The ASA ordered that the ad must not reappear in its current form, and ordered the respondents to ensure that all future ads include the relevant clear and prominent identifiers.
Although we acknowledged that some consumers who made use of the service provided by Thebettingman would be exposed to gambling services, the service was not itself gambling. However, we considered that the purpose of the service was to facilitate gambling and we therefore assessed the ads with that in mind.