On 28 February 2018, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published a ruling against William Hill Organisation Ltd in respect of a television advert found to be misleading and in breach of the BCAP Code for failing to make clear a significant qualification to an offer.
The advertisement in question featured a voice-over that stated:
“Get a 15% free bet bonus on your winnings with ‘2 clear’ from William Hill, 30% of flat races last season were won by two lengths or more. Bet on any live ITV flat race and if your horse wins by 2 lengths or more you’ll get a 15% free bet bonus on your winnings. Introducing ‘2 Clear’ from William Hill. Available on all live ITV flat races. Online, on mobile, and in our shops.”
During the advertisement, the words “free bet bonus” and “Live ITV Flat Races” flashed on screen when referenced in the voice-over. At the bottom of the screen, small text stated “Selected UK flat races. 6+ runners…”
The complainant challenged whether the condition that the promotion only applied to horse races that had at least six runners was made sufficiently clear. In response, William Hill argued that this was made clear through the inclusion of “6+ runners” in the on-screen text. Clearcast, the advertisement clearance service, also argued that the advertisement was not misleading for the same reason.
The ASA’s decision
Despite the justifications offered by William Hill and Clearcast, the ASA found the ad to be in breach of rule 3.1 of the BCAP Code - which provide that adverts must not materially mislead - and also rule 3.10, which states that adverts must state significant qualifications and that qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify.
The ASA found that the on-screen text “6+ runners” contradicted the statements in the voiceover that a punter could “bet on any live ITV flat race” and receive the free bet. The ASA also found that, as it was common for runners to drop out of flat horse race immediately before its start, a consumer might not know if they were eligible for the free bet until the start of the race. As a result, the ASA deemed the “6+ racers qualification” to be material and argued that it should have been set out in the main body of the advert in any case.
Click here to see the full ASA ruling.