A 'prankster' style video was made by Betway Ltd and posted onto its YouTube channel in October 2019. It showed a bemused footballer, Declan Rice, in the aftermath of his Range Rover being clamped - but, as the action unfolds, it becomes obvious to the viewer that it was all a prank orchestrated by West Ham’s club captain, Mark Noble, guiding an actor posing as a traffic warden.
During the video, the footballers wore West Ham shirts, prominently displaying the logo of their sponsor, Betway. At the end of the video, viewers saw Betway’s logo, tagline "Heed Your Hunch" and the disclaimer "Bet the responsible way. 18+ begambleaware.org” flash up on screen.
Mere editoral? All bets are off!
Advertisements for gambling products and services are not allowed to feature anyone who is or appears to be under 25 playing a significant role. One person complained about the video because Declan Rice, aged 20, played a very significant role in the video which, they believed, promoted a gambling brand.
Betway argued that the video was purely editorial, and therefore outside the ASA’s remit. They argued it was merely a prank video which they made available to fans and followers on their YouTube channel.
However, the ASA disagreed.
The ASA considered that the video had all the necessary ingredients of an advertisement, in particular the video included prominent references to the “Betway” brand (not merely on the sponsored shirts). The ASA considered that the claims “HEED YOUR HUNCH” and “Bet the responsible way. 18+ begambleaware.org”, were intended to promote Betway's brand and to encourage consumers to place bets via its platform.
The ASA concluded the video therefore came within its remit and had to comply with the CAP Code. Given that it was a gambling ad which featured an individual aged 20 playing a significant role, it was in breach of the CAP Code.
The full ruling can be found here.
In the first ruling of its type, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) dismissed Betway’s argument that the social media video didn’t come under advertising regulations as is did not make any overt references to its products.