UK Advertising Watchdog Rejects Complaints about Paddy Power and Sky Bet Ads
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced that it has been investigating complaints about several adverts ran by betting sites Paddy Power and Sky Bet, both of which featured footballers. Following the end of the investigation, ASA has decided not to uphold the four complaints (two complaints were made for each case).
The United Kingdom Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) bans adverts which features celebrities that could appeal to children. When it comes to adverts for sports betting sites, this generally means footballers or other famous sports players who are popular amongst minors.
In November 2022, one of the leading UK betting sites, Paddy Power, ran two TV ads and a promoted tweet featuring Peter Crouch. Crouch is a well-known English football player who played for a number of Premier League clubs, including Stoke City, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Aston Villa. Furthermore, between 2005 and 2010, Crouch appeared in 42 games for the England National Team, scoring 22 goals.
Meanwhile, in October 2022, another popular betting site Sky Bet published a promoted tweet featuring football player Micah Richards. Richards spent the majority of his career at Manchester City, and he is currently and ambassador for the club. He also played for FC Fiorentina on loan, and retired at Aston Villa. Between 2006 and 2012, Richards played 13 times for the English National Team, and in 2012 he represented Great Britain in the Olympics.
The two betting sites justified the adverts, pointing out that both football players retired in 2019 and are now pundits. According to the Advertising Code, pundits have a “low-risk of strong appeal to children”. As noted, Peter Crouch, now 41 years of age, has not played for England since 2010, and Richards, who is 34, has not featured in a Premier League game since 2016.
The ASA investigation also concluded that neither player has a strong presence on Social Media, which is crucial when it comes to determining the influence a celebrity has on children. According to ASA, Peter Crouch’s appeal was “overwhelmingly” applicable to adults in adult-targeted commercials, which was partly due to his advertising work for Brewdog. With regards to Richards’s Social Media profiles, the ASA found these to also be mostly adult-oriented.
Paddy Power and Sky Bets are two of the largest UK betting sites, and are both owned by global betting provider Flutter Entertainment. Flutter, as well as all its brands, are likely to be well-aware of the Advertising Code and all their adverts would be carefully considered and planned in order to ensure that they complied with the strict responsible gambling rules and regulations both companies adhere to. Moreover, Sky Bet would have further access to guidance and information on the importance of advertising being part of major UK broadcasting company Sky.
At the conclusion of its investigation, ASA stated that neither Crouch, nor Richards, had a strong appeal to minors, and all complaints were dismissed. A statement issued by ASA reads:
“[…] the CAP Code stated that marketing communications for gambling products must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They must not include a person or character whose example was likely to be followed by those aged under 18 years or who had strong appeal to those aged under 18.”
Both betting sites are proud of their creative adverts. As part of their elaborate advertising campaign, Paddy Power and Peter Crouch recorded a live opera album for Christmas, which featured Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts and a 40-piece orchestra. With the catchy name “Crouchy Conducts the Classics”, the album reached No. 2 in the Classical Album charts, even replacing Andrea Bocelli for the spot. All proceeds went to LGBT+ charity Stonewall in support of their work in Qatar, and Peter Crouch and Paul Potts performed a gig at Wembley Arena, all the tickets for which were sold out.
Meanwhile, betting provider Paddy Power was given Superbrand status due to the creativity of its advertising campaigns. The status, awarded by the Centre for Brand Analysis, is a huge achievement for the company. It was awarded as a result of a number of independent surveys in which consumers named Paddy Power as one of the best / most outstanding brands. The company’s campaigns were praised by consumers who found them to be complex, high-coverage, and high-impact.
Both betting sites will be delighted with the outcome of the enquiry showing that there was no wrongdoing, and will undoubtedly continue to surprise customers with creative and unique advertising.