A Facebook advert created by the Football Index app has been banned by regulators for featuring stars of the game that are under the age of 25.
The ad stars the likes of 19-year-old Jaden Sancho, the 20-year-old Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling, who is still only 24. Even Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi, at 18, features.
There is a code of conduct that governs advertising that is ‘non broadcast’, i.e. it doesn’t appear on TV or radio, and that code states that nobody under the age of 25 should be shown gambling or playing a significant role in an ad that promotes gambling and its associated activities.
The only place that such promotional materials can be displayed is actually within an establishment where a bet can be made, such as a bookies’ website or inside a football stadium.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint about Football Index’s advert, and they upheld a verdict that their promo breached the advertising code. They have told the brand that the advert must not be used again.
The Football Index’s marketing director, Mike Bohan, accepted the ruling. He said:
“We have reviewed our marketing practices to ensure they are compliant with the advertising regulations, and accurately represent Football Index’s socially responsible platform.”
Football Index is slightly different to traditional betting sites in that users buy and sell virtual shares in footballers from around the world. Based on their performances on the pitch, the share price of each goes up and down accordingly in a way similar to the FTSE etc.
With real money at stake and ‘handsome profits’ to be made, as per the advert, you can see why the ASA has judged the marketing as they would any other betting promo.
Gambling Under the Microscope
There has been plenty of scrutiny as to how gambling firms advertise themselves in the media, with a whistle-to-whistle ban now agreed for televised games.
But betting firms still enjoy a substantial presence at football grounds in particular, with comprehensive sponsorship on advertising hoardings and on the front of shirts. Paddy Power, notably, have looked to reverse this trend with their ‘Save Our Shirts’ campaign.
This is an issue rarely far from the news, however, and betting and football hit the headlines once again earlier in the summer as it was announced that Wayne Rooney would be joining Derby County in a move partly subsidised by 32Red, the casino and ports wagering brand that sponsors the Rams. Indeed, Rooney will wear the number 32 shirt when he joins the Midlands outfit at the end of the current MLS season in January.
Here’s how the world reacted to Wayne Rooney moving to Derby
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) 7 August 2019
The thinktank and campaigning group Demos has published a report in to how brands, particularly those in the betting sector, have been able to surreptitiously get around advertising regulations on social media – exposing potentially thousands of under-16s to gambling orientated content.
That’s not just mainstream sports either, with eSports a major contributor to more than 880,000 tweets highlighted by Demos. Games such as Fortnite and FIFA have a gambling element with player packs and expansion content, and with children spending money on the hope they land a certain player or weapon this very much falls under the remit of the ASA.
The report concluded that social media firms and tech companies should make more vigilant use of their age verification tools, and implement screening technology that ensures children and young adults aren’t targeted by gambling-focused ads.