UK ad watchdog finds no fault with Chris Rock BetMGM ad

The ASA has previously found fault with several gambling ads for appeal to minors.
The ASA has previously found fault with several gambling ads for appeal to minors.

The ASA received complaints over the use of Rock as a brand ambassador.

UK.- The UK Advertising Standards Authority has rejected three complaints received in relation to an ad promoting the launch of BetMGM in the British online gambling market. The complaints argued that the use of the comedian Chris Rock as a brand ambassador would appeal to under 18s.

The ad, aired in October, showed Rock taking a golden speedboat with a lion from the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas to the Thames in London. BetMGM’s operating partner LeoVegas defended the ad, saying it had found Rock to be low risk because of his age (58) and because he is not UK-based.

The operator said Rock was “a well-known adult-orientated stand-up comedian and actor who, when appearing visually as himself, was associated with adult themes.” It stressed that in the animated films Madagascar, Rock was not seen as himself. Moreover, those who saw the original movies on release in 2005-2008 would now be over 18.

The ASA agreed, concluding that “because all of the characters he portrayed in the films that we considered would strongly appeal to children were limited to voice-over roles, and there were no visual or physical similarities between the characters he portrayed and his appearance in the ad, we considered that, within the context of his overall career profile, he would likely not be of strong appeal to under-18s in the UK.”

LeoVegas also provided an analysis of Rock’s social media accounts, noting that 99.78 per cent of his 11.7 million followers on X and Instagram were registered as over 18. The ASA concluded that the ad “was not of strong appeal to children or young persons” and that no action will be taken.

This time the ruling went LeoVegas’s way, but earlier this month the ASA ruled against a LeoVegas radio advert for its BetUK sportsbook due to the possibility that it could appeal to children. The advert, which aired in September, featured the retired footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa speaking about his work as a brand ambassador for BetUK.

Akinfenwa mentioned safer gambling tools such as deposit limits, reality checks and time-outs. However, the ASA received a complaint that argued that Akinfenwa had appeal to minors, putting the ad in contravention of the CAP Code rules 17.4 and 17.4.5.

In January, the ASA ruled against Buzz Bingo in relation to an advert on Facebook that included Halloween-themed imagery. The ASA had received a complaint about the advert in October. 

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ASA BetMGM LeoVegas online gambling