ASA upholds ruling on BetUK advert featuring Adebayo Akinfenwa

The challenge looked at whether the ad featured an individual who was likely to be of strong appeal to under 18’s. 

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a ruling against an advert from LeoVegas brand BetUK. 

This is in relation to a radio ad run by BetUK on 27 September 2023, which featured the retired footballer Adebayo Akinfenwa stating he was a brand ambassador for the company. 

Within the ad, Akinfenwa said: “You can now find a range of tools on the BetUK website. You can set deposit limits, schedule reality checks and set timeouts to help you stay in control. Always gamble responsibly at BetUK.” 

The complainant challenged the ad based on whether it featured an individual who was likely to be of strong appeal to those individuals under the age of 18. 

BetUK’s response to the matter looked at the fact that Akinfenwa was unlikely to be popular with under-18s because of his age and the fact he had retired from professional football in May 2022; during his career, he also did not play for a Premier League team.

The LeoVegas brand also looked at Akinfenwa’s age demographic percentages on social media channels, suggesting the ad was aired on a radio show that was likely to have an adult audience. 

However, the ASA concluding that there had been a breach of the code.

The advertising regulatory looked at how the former professional footballer had become well-known among football fans because of his “impressive physical strength,” which saw him ranked as the strongest player in various editions of the FIFA game and led to the nickname “The Beast.” Akinfenwa also had an Amazon Prime documentary made about him called ‘Beast Mode On’..

The ASA looked further into his social media presence and the total number across all channels, and that his number of followers was a “significant number in absolute terms.” 

From this, the ASA has asked for the ad not to appear again in its current form and told BetUK not to include a person or character who had a strong appeal to under-18s within future advertising. 

This case is similar to one back in October, when Sky Bet faced a challenge from the ASA over a social media post featuring former footballer and current TV personality Gary Neville

In a recent Huddle, Poppleston Allen Associate Solicitor, Imogen Moss, spoke to Gambling Insider about UK gaming regulation in 2024, including looking at the ASA and such cases. 

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