UK ad regulators side with Betfair after ‘aspirational’ complaint
Betfair, the UK-based gambling operator, recently scored a victory over the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in a case that highlights the utter absurdity of the UK gaming market in 2019. In the matter, Betfair was cleared of any wrongdoing with regards to an advertisement that featured a “controversial” use of the word “smart.”
The advertisement in question featured a young man walking the opposite direction of a large crowd of people on the street. He stops when he sees door marked “Betfair” and sits down next to an older man with a kind face. Both men look at their phones while a voice-over of the younger man says, “My gut says that horse is something special and my smarts say to back it on the Betfair Exchange where I get bigger returns than if I bet with one of these other bookies. That’s why I go to Betfair. Betfair, where gut instinct meets smarts.”
Somewhere in the misty lands of the United Kingdom, a television viewer decided not only that the ad made gambling seem, “aspirational” and “exciting” – he or she decided to lodge a formal complaint about the matter. That meant that government officials spent time investigating the matter; and Betfair employees had to spend time responding to the matter to reach the conclusion that the ad did nothing of the sort.
Betfair, quite correctly, maintained that the ad emphasize the value of their service (higher returns on betting exchanges versus traditional bookmakers). They also, according to a report on SBC News point out that no on in the ad seemed to notice the young man anyways – which nips the “aspirational” argument in the bud.
At the end of the day, a fair amount of governmental and corporate resources were spent clearing Betfair in a matter that probably never should have been investigated in the first place.