UK ad watchdog warns operators to be aware of new influencer ad ban

The new rules came into effect on October 1.
The new rules came into effect on October 1.

The ban on features that would have “strong appeal” to minors is now in force.

UK.- The Advertising Standards Authority has warned licensed operators in Britain to be aware of new Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) restrictions on gambling advertising, which came into force on October 1. The new restrictions include a ban on features that would have “strong appeal” to under-18s, including the use of top-level footballers and social media influencers.

The ASA warned that the ban applies to content “regardless of how it is viewed by adults”. 

It said: “This will significantly impact gambling advertisers looking to promote their brands using prominent sports people and celebrities as well as individuals like social media influencers, who are of strong appeal to those under 18.”

The “strong appeal” definition may appear to be open to interpretation, but the ASA noted that it would be interpreted to cover celebrities that have a large audience among under-18s, including influencers and footballers.

It noted that the ban prohibits the use of “UK footballers who play for top clubs, UK national teams or in high-profile competitions”, while retired or lower-league players may be allowed. The ban also rules out the use of influencers “whose content focuses on youth-related themes”.

The new rules were published in April after a consultation following a GambleAware report into underage gambling. The consultation received 27 responses, including from the Betting and Gaming Council, which argued that restricting the use of sports personalities in advertising was a “step too far”.

Last month, the ASA criticised the gaming group Lindar Media for an advert promoting its MrQ brand on Reddit. The advert used a popular image often used as a meme, which shows three spidermen characters pointing at each other.

The ASA opened an investigation in June after receiving complaints. It’s now concluded that using a comic book character meant that the paid ad would have particular appeal to minors, thus breaching the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code).

In June, the ASA warned gambling operators to ensure that content marketing on social media meets advertising rules. It said it had received questions about whether content marketing counts as marketing for the purposes of the CAP code. Its conclusion is that the “vast majority” does.

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