On 23 August, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled on two potential breaches of the BCAP Code by the Bear Group Ltd. The ruling related to two radio adverts, which advertised casino and slots games on thexfactorgames.com. The ASA held in Bear Group’s favour, finding that the adverts were not in breach of advertising regulations. This case is a useful reminder that not only must gambling adverts themselves not be directed (or likely to appeal) to under-18s, but that scheduling requirements must also be considered.

The Adverts

Both radio ads used the theme tune and voice-over associated with the popular TV show, The X Factor. The first was aired on Wave 105’s breakfast show (and again at 3pm). The second was aired on Absolute 80s breakfast show on 8 May 2017.

Seven complaints were received in relation to the adverts. The complaints challenged whether the ads were: (1) irresponsible as the adverts were likely to appeal to children; and (2) scheduled appropriately considering the fact that children might be listening at that time.

ASA’s Ruling

Although the ASA held that the adverts were likely to be associated by consumers with the X Factor show, the shows viewing figures did not illustrate a greater appeal to under-18s as opposed to over-18s. The theme tune and voice-over were found to be generic elements of the X Factor show, and the ASA held that the adverts were not more appealing to under-18s than over-18s. They were not, therefore, in breach of the BCAP Code in this respect.

In relation to the ASA’s consideration of whether there was a breach of the BCAP Code’s rules on scheduling (specifically, rule 32.2.2), the Bear Group submitted evidence in relation to the listening figures for each of the radio stations on which the adverts appeared. The evidence submitted by the Bear Group indicated that 89% and 96% respectively of Wave 105’s and Absolute’s listeners at the times the adverts were aired were over-18. In light of this the ASA concluded that the adverts had not been scheduled inappropriately as the programming on each radio was unlikely to have a greater appeal to those under 18.

You can find a full report of the hearing here.