The UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has reprimanded XLMedia for an advertisement promoting its Freebetsdotcom brand that featured footballer Mason Mount on Instagram.
The advertisement in question was posted on 11 and 12 July this year and featured an image of the professional footballer. Although Mason Mount was playing for Chelsea at the time of the ad, he has since moved to Manchester United.
Two complaints were lodged, both related to the inclusion of a player under the age of 25 in the advertisement. The ASA contacted XLMedia regarding the complaints but received no response from the company.
In its ruling, the ASA criticized XLMedia for its lack of response and apparent disregard for regulations. The ASA found that XLMedia breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7, which pertains to unreasonable delay in responding to complaints.
The ASA also highlighted that gambling advertisements cannot feature individuals under the age of 25 in significant roles, in line with the CAP Code. Marketing communications related to gambling must also be prepared responsibly, considering consumers and society.
While the ASA acknowledged that Freebetsdotcom's service is not gambling itself, as it collects betting offers from other operators, it noted that using the website allows consumers to interact with gambling services. Consequently, featuring someone under 25 in a significant role in the ad was deemed irresponsible. Mason Mount was 24 years old at the time the ad was published and was the central focus of the advertisement.
In its conclusion, the ASA ruled that the advertisement was for a service meant to facilitate gambling and featured an individual under 25 in a significant role, breaching CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.3 regarding social responsibility. The ASA ordered that the ad must not appear again in its current form and instructed XLMedia to ensure future advertisements do not feature anyone under 25 in a significant role. The matter was also referred to the CAP's compliance team.
This ruling comes shortly after the ASA reprimanded the People's Postcode Lottery over an advertisement that linked gambling to solving financial concerns, citing a breach of the CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 17.3 regarding lotteries.
Image License: Unsplash.com, Free to use, Author: Souvik Banerjee