UK watchdog blasts use of Halloween imagery in Buzz Bingo advert

The ASA says cartoonlike imagery can have a strong appeal to children.
The ASA says cartoonlike imagery can have a strong appeal to children.

The ASA ruled that the advert could appeal to children.

UK.- The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has 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. 

The advert in question included an animation showing a full moon, pumpkin heads, bats, a spider, a church whose roof looked like witches’ hats and a graveyard with a tombstone and a cross. Copy in a font that looked like slime read “Monster Mondays – £50,000 must be won every Monday in October.”

The complainant said that the cartoon imagery would appeal to children, while Buzz Bingo argued that access to its Facebook page is restricted to over 18s. It said the advert was part of a campaign targeted at over 25s with an interest in bingo.

However, the ASA said that under the CAP Code, adverts must not “be of strong appeal to children or young persons”. It specifically mentioned that animated content and childlike background imagery could generate such appeal. Regarding the specific case, it said that the imagery recalled the style of children’s cartoons and story books and that Halloween traditions in general and the word “monster” could appeal to children. It was of the opinion that the advert was likely to have strong appeal for children.

As such, it ruled that the advert could only appear in situations where it could be guaranteed that under 18s were unable to see it, something it says could not be guaranteed by Facebook since it depends on self-verification of age. 

The ASA said that the advert must not appear again in the same form. It also told Buzz Bingo to refrain from using themes or imagery likely to have strong appeal to under 18s in the future.

In November, the ASA found that three Twitter posts made by BetFred breached rules against using celebrities with appeal to under-18s. The posts on the platform named X featured the British boxer Anthony Joshua.

Two of the posts involved an interview with commentator Dom McGuinness. The third showed Joshua speaking about his mentality when he is fighting. BetFred said it had investigated Joshua and decided that he did not have a strong appeal to under-18s because he is coming to the end of his career. It also argued that it age-gates its social media channels. BetFred stressed that 0 per cent of Joshua’s followers on X, TikTok and Facebook were registered as between 13 and 17.

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