Tennis tweets once again land Ladbrokes in hot water with ASA

Tennis tweets once again land Ladbrokes in hot water with ASA

Ladbrokes has again found itself facing criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for its Twitter activity, specifically for featuring prominent athletes in marketing material.

A series of posts on Twitter ( now known as X)  from the Entain-owned bookmaker featured tennis players Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas in January and February 2023.

Two of the four tweets focused on Djokovic, celebrating the Serbian player’s professional record and accomplishments such as the 2023 Men’s Australian Open victory. 

The remaining two were promotional material featuring all four players, with one featuring a poll allowing Ladbrokes followers to vote on who they thought would win the Australian tournament.

In its assessment of the tweets, the ASA upheld its challenge that Ladbrokes’ Twitter posts violated the CAP Code, which requires that no prominent sports personalities which could have strong appeal to young people can appear in betting marketing material.

The authority held that “all four were ‘star’ players who had a high profile in tennis and would be considered high risk according to the CAP guidance, and therefore were likely to be of strong appeal to those under 18”.

Djokovic, Nadal, Kyrgios and Tsitsipas are all considered ‘high risk’ from a betting marketing standpoint, according to the CAP Code. This is because all four are active athletes at an elite level in their sport, having competed in the tennis Grand Slam within the past year.

In its response, Ladbrokes acknowledged that the tweets did feature prominent players, but that they had reviewed each athlete’s profile, follower demographic and sponsorship patterns to assess the extent of their appeal to under-18 consumers.

The bookmaker defended itself with data on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers showing that ‘hardly any’ were under the age of 21, particularly on the latter platform.

“They believed that the data indicated that all four players appealed to an older audience rather than under 18s,” the ASA explained.

“They also stated that each player had partnerships with brands which they believed appealed to adults. For example, they said Djokovic had partnerships with brands including Peugeot, Hublot and ANZ Banking.”

However, Ladbrokes did note that because Twitter’s method of allowing its users to self-verify their age is ‘not always accurate’, but had countered this by targeting social media ads to only reach over 25s.

When data showed that impressions for the four ads varied between 24,653-35,050, with only one of these impressions in the 18-24 bracket, the bookmaker requested clarification from Twitter, believing this to be an anomaly.

Although recognizing Ladbrokes’ data, the ASA concluded that the high profile nature of the four players featured, as well as Twitter’s self-verification method, meant that the tweets in question were in breach of the code. The bookmaker has been told to remove the posts and not do so again.

This is the third ASA action against Ladbrokes this summer regarding tweets, with the bookmaker falling under the authority’s scope twice in July. The first instance featured boxers Jake Paul and Tommy Fury, whilst the latter included a range of football managers such as Newcastle United’s Eddie Howe.

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