This week the United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) turned a suspicious eye towards the advertisements of two online gambling companies for delivering messages they deemed as inappropriate. They claim that recent advertisements created by Paddy Power and Intercasino link online gambling with increased sexual prowess and that consequently these poker sites may have to withdraw the ads.
According to the ASA, the Paddy Power advertisement was “irresponsible” for suggesting that keen gambling skills can win a person admiration from attractive members of the opposite sex. The add to which they are referring features financial spread betting and has a man drinking champagne in a limousine, enjoying his ride with two sexy females who are apparently impressed by his unmatched gambling skills.
Paddy Power representatives have claimed that they were targeting a “specific” audience who would understand the innuendos in the ad and realize that they were not sexual. In the advertisement they use the term “being short”. People who don’t gamble would most likely assume that the statement carries some sort of sexual innuendo, when in reality it is just a “whimsical” play on words that exist in gambling vernacular.
According to a company spokesman, the ad also attempted to re-enact a scene from Oliver Stone’s film Wall Street. Regardless of the message they truly wanted to convey, they have already chosen to remove the advertisement from all UK media outlets.
The ASA authorities did not see the advertisement in quite the same light as Paddy Power and released a statement saying, “We concluded the ad suggested this man's 'shortcoming' had been overcome by the wealth he had acquired through gambling and therefore that the ad implied gambling was a way to improve self-esteem or gain recognition or admiration. We concluded the ad was irresponsible.”
Following up on Paddy Power’s indecency, the ASA also attacked a series of television advertisements released by InterCasino, a Malta-based Internet casino, for featuring slapstick humor that could possibly appeal to children. ASA authorities maintained that the advertisements featured small characters wearing costumes and participating in game show style activities similar to the popular Japanese television program Takeshi’s Castle.
Because the advertisement depicted juvenile behavior, they were in violation of ASA regulations. "The slapstick humour was likely to appeal to children and young persons," the Advertising Standards Authority said.
They added that under their new rules that try to regulate the recent loosening of TV gambling advertisements companies, “should not appeal to people under 18, or associate gambling with sexual success, increased popularity or as a solution to financial problems.”
Although these restrictions may seem ridiculous, Great Britain is actually surprisingly strict on the kind of advertisements that are allowed to reach their population. Cigarrette advertisements are highly controlled so it comes as no surprise that they are trying to curb gambling ads as well.
The sad thing is that it is still kosher to advertise artery-clogging, heart-attack-inducing Big Mac ads and such unhealthy fare to children while other activities that affect a much smaller population are highly regulated. Either way, don’t expect to see any funny or sexy gambling advertisements in England any time soon.