ASA bans Coral Interactive TV advertisement

By Emma Rumney
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled UK bookmaker Coral must not air a recent television advertisement again in its current form.

The ASA reviewed the ad - which features two men reading the Racing Post and discussing horse racing in a barber shop before a female jockey enters and draws their attention to a Coral Interactive betting offer - after receiving a number of complaints that it breaches the ASA code because it links gambling to "seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness".

The female jockey enters the shop as music starts to play and the camera focuses on her knee-high boots before cutting to a shot of the rest of her outfit, featuring tight jodhpurs, a whip and jersey cut to show her midriff.

As she walks past the two men she closes one's gaping jaw with her whip, while being stared at by other men in the shop distracted by her presence.

A voiceover then states "get ready for today's great offer" and the woman is shown holding a sign bearing the odds for a horse in an upcoming race.

In the next scene the woman touches one of the first men's phone with her whip, after which the man places a bet through the Coral app on his phone as the voiceover references Coral's "great prices".

On her way out of the shop the woman taps the TV with her whip. It turns on to show a horse race as the voiceover states "go on, stick one on it".

The ad closes with a shot showing a phone and tablet computer being struck with a whip.

Gibraltar-based Coral Interactive agreed that the advert made use of an attractive female character but argued she only drew attention to the offer, rather than flirting with or seducing the men, and that the ad makes no suggestion that they would be more attractive to or sexually successful with her after placing a bet.

The bookmaker stated that the two men were already discussing placing a bet on a specific race to run later that day and the woman therefore did not lead them into making a behavioural choice they would not otherwise have made.

The firm continued to say that the ad, which it sees as "light-hearted", "unrealistic" and devoid of sexual content or seduction, did not imply there would be any future interaction between the characters and instead portrays the woman as "mysterious and unattainable".

The ASA acknowledged Coral Interactive and advertising agency Clearcast's view, especially in regard to their point that the woman did not influence the men's behaviour as they were already intending to place a bet before her entrance.

However the authority said that from her introduction onwards there was an immediate emphasis on her sexual attractiveness and the "mood" of the ad changed.

From then on, the ASA said, a link was forged between gambling and seduction that continued for the rest of the ad and was reinforced by the jockey's consistent influence over her surroundings. She behaved in a flirtatious manner towards the men, closing one's "gaping mouth" with her whip and "swinging her hips in an exaggerated fashion" as she walked around.

The ASA said: "Viewers would be likely to understand the men's reaction to the woman's presence as being signs of their attraction to her, rather than excitement at the odds she held up on a card at one point in the ad.

"Because she represented the Coral Interactive brand and was shown playing a seductive role in the scenario depicted, we concluded that the ad linked gambling to seduction and was therefore in breach of [rule 17.3.7 of] the Code."

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