On 8 January 2020, the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) found Betway Ltd (“Betway”) had breached the age restrictions contained in the CAP Code in relation to a video published on its YouTube account featuring footballer Declan Rice.

What was the video about?

The YouTube video showed West Ham’s captain, Mark Noble “pranking” his clubmate Declan Rice by arranging for his car to be clamped by an actor posing as a traffic warden. The video depicted a number of other individuals all wearing West Ham football shirts which prominently feature Betway’s logo. The tagline was “HEED YOUR HUNCH” and the video ended with the words “betway” and “bet the responsible way. 18+ begambleaware.org”.

Why was the video challenged?

The video was challenged on the basis that it prominently featured Declan Rice, aged 20, contrary to the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (the “CAP Code”). Under rule 16.3.14, no one who is, or seems to be under the age of 25 can play a significant role in marketing communications (save for under a limited exemption for marketing communications that include a transactional facility).

Betway argued the video simply depicted a prank, rather than an advert containing promotional content, and as such the video fell outside the scope of “a marketing communication” for the purposes of the CAP Code. Betway argued that Declan Rice was not portrayed in a sporting context, there was no reference to a specific market and there was no link to its website where a bet could be placed. For these reasons, Betway contended the material was editorial as opposed to an advertisement.

The ASA’s ruling and reasoning

The ASA disagreed with Betway’s assessment and found the video had contravened rule 16.3.14 of the CAP Code.

The ASA considered the video was promoting the Betway brand. The branded West Ham shirts featured heavily in the material, viewers would be able to place bets on the footballers featured in the video at some point in the future and the video ended with the brand’s name and the claim “bet the responsible way. 18+ begambleaware.org”. Further, the ASA considered the tagline “HEED YOUR HUNCH” encouraged viewers to consider betting. For these reasons the YouTube video was directly connected with the supply of Betway’s services and came within the scope of the CAP Code.

The ASA said that as Declan Rice featured in the video for its entire duration, he played a significant role in a marketing communication. Accordingly, as Declan Rice is under the age of 25 years old, the video contravened the CAP Code and must not appear again in its original form.

What does this mean for advertisers?

The ASA’s ruling on Betway serves as a reminder to brands using platforms such as YouTube to consider the relevant advertising regulations before posting promotional content. Advertisers should take care not to feature individuals who are under the age of 25 in a significant role in marketing communications on social media.

A link to the ASA’s full ruling can be found here.