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ASA rules against Mecca Bingo ad with 'Baga Chipz'

The Advertising Standards Authority deemed a recent Mecca Bingo advert ‘irresponsible’ and said it cannot reappear.

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An advert posted to Instagram by British bingo operator Mecca Bingo hasbeen deemed ‘irresponsible,’ saying it ‘suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem,' thus making it a breach of the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code.  

The advert received two complaints which suggested the above conclusion, causing the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to step in.  

The advert, which was posted back in August, saw drag queen Baga Chipz of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK fame in two separate images, with the text ‘Before playing Mecca Bingo vs after playing Mecca Bingo’ above each. The ‘before’ image uses dark clothing and no make-up where Baga Chipz is not smiling, while in the ‘after’ image the drag queen is smiling, wearing a bright outfit while holding a glass of champagne. 

Mecca Bingo argued that the transformation used to indicate enjoyment in playing Mecca Bingo ‘was not an indication of enhanced personal qualities, self-image or self-esteem' and instead reflected the transformations seen in drag entertainment. Having this context, Mecca Bingo argued, would mean viewers ‘would not take any reference to transformation literally.’ 

Mecca Bingo did, however, admit that without this context, the ad could be misinterpreted.  

The ASA ruled that ‘the ad suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem, which was irresponsible and therefore breached the Code.’ 

In the assessment the ASA stated that, while those with a knowledge of drag queens would understand the ad due to its context, the ad still overall ‘suggested gambling could improve an individual’s self-image or self-esteem.’ 

The ASA has concluded that the ad cannot reappear in the form that received complaints and has spoken with Mecca Bingo on how to avoid this issue in future.  

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