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ASA rules Buzz Bingo’s Halloween promotion to be in breach of advertising code

In a recent ruling, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) addressed a complaint regarding a Halloween-themed advertisement by Buzz Group, the operator of Buzz Bingo. 

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The post in question – posted on Buzz Bingo's Facebook page on 20 October 2023 – featured animated footage of a Halloween-themed scene with a full moon, pumpkin heads, bats, a spider and a graveyard. The text announced a promotion that stated: "MONSTER MONDAYS - £50,000 ($63,000) MUST BE WON EVERY MONDAY IN OCTOBER."

Upon the ad’s release, a complainant raised concerns that the cartoonish Halloween imagery might appeal to children and thus entail a breach of the ASA's advertising code. 

Buzz Group responded by stating that the ad was restricted to Facebook users aged 18 and above, and was part of a targeted campaign aimed at users aged 25 with a confirmed interest in bingo. The company believed Facebook's platform would ensure the ad reached the intended audience while minimising exposure to young people.

Buzz Bingo nonetheless acknowledged the potential appeal to children and removed the ad upon receiving the complaint. They also committed to making changes to their internal marketing approval procedures. 

Despite this, the ASA still upheld the complaint. Its assessment considered Halloween's strong appeal to children and the cartoonish imagery resembling children's cartoons and storybooks. The term "monster" was also deemed likely to attract children. 

While recognising Buzz Bingo's steps in response to the complaint, the ASA ultimately concluded that the ad was irresponsible and in breach of the Code, citing the Code's prohibition on marketing communications for gambling products likely to have strong appeal to children or young persons.

As a result of the ruling, the ad has been prohibited from appearing again and the ASA has advised Buzz Group against including themes or imagery with strong appeal to those under 18 in its future advertisements.

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