In March of this year we reported on a BeGambleAware campaign that was being shown in cinemas and via social media [read more here] and we were really impressed with it.
A ruling published on the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) website on 7th June revealed that the campaign commercial featuring online bingo was not to be shown again in its current format!
There was just one complaint received after a viewer saw the advert in the cinema and felt that the ad was likely to cause distress and offence. The reason was that they felt the male character was predatory and sexually abusive.
Creepy Character In BeGambleAware Campaign
The Responsible Gambling Trust t/a BeGambleAware defended the advert and provided details of how they even tested the advert on the target age range of 15 to 24-year-olds. However, when showing in cinemas, the ad with targeted at over 18’s and specifically before the film Trainspotting 2.
Both ‘Voices’ campaigns are hard to watch because they hit the nail on the head of problem gambling but what’s hard to understand is why the other version was not complained about? The only differences are the gender of the addicted gambler and their choice of gambling vertical.
The ‘creepy’ character, the man trying to entice them back to the online bingo site or fruit machine is the same in both adverts. And in both, his mannerisms and voice are the same.
Wrong Outcome For BeGambleAware
We don’t often disagree with the ASA but we think it was a poor judgement in this instant. Whilst we accept what the complainant was saying about the main character, he was a bit ‘creepy’, it’s excessive to ban the advert, especially considering the complainant was watching a film about hardcore drug addiction!
Maybe the complainant was transported to a bad time in his / her life after viewing the advert and that’s very sad. Sadder still is that this hard hitting and brilliantly done campaign will not be seen by someone it may have helped.
The full ruling can be read by clicking here.
BeGambleAware Banned Advert
Below is the advert that was banned.