The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK, the organisation that regulates the country’s advertising industry, has reproached Buzz Bingo for a controversial advert on Facebook featuring Halloween images.
After a single complaint was filed, the ASA ruled that the images used in the advert published on 20 October last year could appeal to children.
Check out our detailed Buzz Bingo review if you’re curious about their advertising practices and the marketing strategies they employ.
The offending advert featured animated footage of a full moon above a Halloween-themed scene that included a church whose steeple was rendered in the style of a witch’s hat, several smiling pumpkins, flying bats, spider webs, and a tombstone bearing a cross in a graveyard. The text at the front was designed to look like slime, and it read, “Monster Mondays – £50,000 must be won every Monday in October”.
The complainant argued that the imagery would be attractive to children and therefore, the advert breached the ASA’s code.
Buzz Bingo responded by pointing out that the advert was on a Facebook page that was only visible to those aged 18 years and above. It also highlighted the fact that the Buzz Bingo advert was part of a wider campaign targeting those aged 25 and above with an interest in bingo.
Therefore, Buzz Bingo believed that it had taken the necessary steps to prevent children from seeing the advert. However, the company did acknowledge that it was a legitimate concern that Halloween imagery may attract children and they took down the advert immediately and updated their internal marketing approval procedures.
The ASA upheld the complaint as its code says that gambling products’ marketing material “must not be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”.
The ruling also highlighted the CAP Code guidance that states:
“Gambling and lotteries advertising: protecting under-18s”, stated that animated content and graphics could contribute to the impression that material was designed to appeal to under-18s. It stated that ads should avoid using child-like background imagery, such as that common in nursery rhymes or children’s stories.”
The ASA said that it believes Halloween and its associated traditions are highly appealing to children as is the cartoon style of imagery that was used in the advert. It also argues that the term “monster” may hold extra appeal for children. Therefore, it deemed that the advert was likely to be “of strong appeal” to children.
The ruling then went on to say that the advert may appear on platforms where under-18s could reliably be prevented from seeing it. However, it stressed that those who saw the advert must have been “robustly age-verified” as being 18 and above, and it gave the example of marketing lists that had been validated using payment data or credit checking.
They explained that as Facebook users are able to self-verify during sign-up, it is not an accurate enough system to ensure that under-18s were prevented from being exposed to the advert.
However, the organisation did recognise that Buzz Bingo took immediate steps to rectify the situation once the complaint was made. Nonetheless, the bingo operator was found to have placed an irresponsible ad in breach of CAP Code rules 16.1 and 16.3.12.
As such, Buzz Bingo must ensure the advert does not appear in the same form again. It was also recommended that Buzz Bingo avoid themes and imagery that may appeal to children in future adverts.
While Buzz Bingo may have to change the way it advertises promotions, it has not cut back on them in anyway. There are free bingo games to be had, huge cash competitions, games with extra-large prize pools, and more. Next time you go to play online bingo, be sure to take a look at Buzz Bingo’s latest offers.