UK watchdog finds LeoVegas ad featuring “cult hero” footballer to be irresponsible

UK watchdog finds LeoVegas ad featuring “cult hero” footballer to be irresponsible

The operator has been ordered to withdraw the ad for BetUK.

UK.- The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told LeoVegas to withdraw a 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.

LeoVegas argued that as Akinfenwa is retired, he was unlikely to influence young people. It also noted that he played outside of the Premier League. It said only 8 per cent of the former player’s Instagram followers were under 18, and it emphasised that the ad was aired during a radio show that would have a mainly adult audience, a claim that Radiocentre backed up.

However, ASA said that players from lower leagues could still be of “moderate risk” due to social and media profiles. It noted that Akinfenwa is well-known due to his physical strength, being ranked as the strongest player in the FIFA video game. It said this had given him the status of a “cult hero”.

It said: “We considered the manner in which he was portrayed in the media and by which he had marketed himself would have led some football fans to view him as a cult hero in the game. We therefore considered that his media profile, alongside our view that he was unusually well known for a former lower league footballer, would have placed him in the ‘moderate risk’ category of the guidance.”

It added: “We considered that over 157,000 followers aged under 18 years, with the true total figure likely higher due to the absence of data for the other social media platforms, was a significant number in absolute terms. Although his career as a lower league footballer and his media profile in isolation would have placed him in the ‘moderate risk’ category, we considered that because he had such large numbers of social media followers who were under 18 years due to his career and profile, Akinfenwa would be placed in the ‘high risk’ category and was likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.”

The ASA ruled that the advert must not be aired again in the same form.

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. 

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.”

In this article:
ASA LeoVegas