The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Hillside Sports – the registered name of bet365 – to avoid using ‘a person or character’ with appeal to under-18s after investigating a Twitter advert by the company.
bet365 had prompted a video advert posted on the Sky Sports Premier League’s Twitter account which featured then Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka. Text in the video read “Granit Xhaka pulled out this stunning finish last season in Arsenal vs Man United”.
This was then followed by a video of a footballer taking a shot from a corner with the bet365 logo later appearing, before cutting to Xhaka scoring a goal against Manchester United during the 2022/23 Premier League season.
The ASA explained that the ad had been flagged for potentially breaching the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, specifically for featuring a sportsperson who had strong appeal to under-18s.
In its assessment, the ASA asserted that because bet365 had re-tweeted Sky Sports’ post – which featured the bet365 logo due a sponsorship deal between the two organisations – it was effectively incorporating the tweet into its own marketing.
The CAP code classifies individuals such as Xhaka, who played at an elite level for a well-known Premier League club, as high-risk and of having potentially strong appeal to under-18s.
In its statement, the ASA explained: “The ad included Granit Xhaka who was a player at Arsenal Football Club at the time the ad was seen and would be well known to the fans of that club, and also to those who followed Premier League football more generally, including children.
“We also considered that he would be well known for being captain of the Swiss national team. We therefore considered he was likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.”
In its response, bet365 stated that the tweet was produced by Sky Sports and so could not be attributed to the bookmaker, although as mentioned above, the ASA has disregarded this due to the operator retweeting the post.
The company also insisted that the amount of time the bet365 logo was shown on screen was limited – occurring for just five seconds as opposed to 21 seconds for the Sky Sports Premier League logo – and that only 0.2% of Sky Sports Premier League’s Twitter followers were registered as under 18.
Additionally, bet365 maintained that Xhaka did not have a public Twitter profile and that only 0.4% of his Instagram followers were under-18, although a larger number of his TikTok followers were at 32.3% – however, when combined he only had an audience consisting 3.38% of under-18s.
Similar to other rulings, the ASA determined that Twitter’s self-verification method of verifying users iDs was not robust enough and so ”bet365 had not excluded under-18s from the audience with the highest level of accuracy required for ads the content of which was likely to appeal to under-18s”.
This follows a similar pattern with other ASA rulings lately in which the operator has criticised operators for both using high-profile athletes in marketing material, relying on Twitter’s age-verification method, the most notable being Ladbrokes.
On the other hand, bet365 did find itself receiving support from the ASA earlier this year when the authority ruled against a complaint regarding an ad featuring two professional boxers.
Meanwhile, Flutter Entertainment brands Sky Bet and Paddy Power have also been cleared for using retired footballers Peter Crouch and Micah Richards.