Commercial Breakdown

Comments by David Clifton feature in the current EGR Marketing magazine within an article entitled “Commercial Breakdown” (that can be downloaded below).

The author of the article, Julian Rogers, poses the questions: “The rising tide of complaints relating to online ads shows little sign of receding. So what’s driving this surge, and can two major gambling firms count themselves a little unlucky to have recently had their knuckles rapped?”

David expands below on his comments quoted in the article:

  • It has been one of the ASA’s principal objectives to increase awareness of the advertising standards system which has no doubt led to an increased number of complaints. I am not at all surprised by the surge in online complaints because, if the gambling industry provides any relevant measure, that is where today’s major marketing spend takes place, as evidenced by last November’s financial analysis by Regulus Partners on behalf of Gambleaware, estimating that gambling companies had spent £1.2 billion marketing online, five times more than on television ads.
  • In calling its new 5-year strategy launched last year “More Impact Online”, the ASA could not have been clearer in its intention to increasingly focus on the regulation of online ads. We can expect much more of the same focus as the online gambling sector continues to grow, as the Gambling Commission’s recently published “Industry Statistics” report clearly shows.
  • The last year has seen a rising tide of public opinion against gambling advertising for reasons of which we are all aware. This, coupled with concerns on the part of the Gambling Commission that is now empowered to take tougher and swifter action against operators who breach the Advertising Codes, has resulted in a much more robust approach being taken by the ASA when complaints about gambling ads are received.
  • As mentioned in my current Licensing Expert article for SBC News, I have considerable sympathy with operators who have not been alone in failing to understand the logic behind some of the ASA’s recent rulings, the Paddy Power Rewards ad featuring Ryan Giggs’ brother and the Sky Bets “Request a Bet” ad providing obvious examples.
  • To take the more recent of those as an example, Paddy Power has a history of ads that are often outrageously close to the regulatory edge but strong in humour, carrying an implied message that they should not be taken too seriously. That of course will not mean it is immune from censure by the ASA, although I think the recent ASA ruling on its above-mentioned ad featuring Rhodri Giggs was harsh. I say this because, in my mind, Clearcast adopted a more appropriate approach to the ad. Will Paddy Power care one way or another? Probably not, on the basis of the old adage “all publicity is good publicity”.
  • By way of contrast, a William Hill ad posted on Twitter was recently found by the ASA to have breached the CAP Code by linking gambling to sexual success. Given the “hook-up” reputation of the particular dating app on which the William Hill ad was posted, it is surprising that it took intervention by the ASA for William Hill to accept that the ad could be interpreted as linking gambling to sexual success.