Online gambling company Betway has learned the hard way that, according to the UK advertising watchdog, YouTube prank videos can still be advertisements.
On Tuesday, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a lawsuit about a prank video featuring West Ham footballer Declan Rice, brought against UK gambling operator Betway. The video was released last October on the company’s YouTube channel.
The video featured an actor playing the role of a traffic cop who would place on Rice’s car a restraining brace. Also featuring in the video was Rice’s colleague Mark Noble wearing a West Ham shirt with a prominent display of the Betway logo, feeding lines to the cop / actor via radio link to keep Rice annoyed.
Rice is 20-years-old, and the UK Committee Advertising Practice (CAP) code forbids anyone under the age of 25 or who looks younger than 25 from playing a “significant role” in gambling promotions.
Last August, the Football Index was spanked for a Facebook advert featuring Jadon Sancho, the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder. Many operators were fined four years ago for using photos of Jordan Spieth, a young golfer.
Betway said it regarded the five-minute video as an editorial content rather than an ad, as it did not represent Rice in a sporting sense, nor did it apply to any particular market, odds or promotions, and did not contain any connexion to the Betway website.
The ASA countered that a’ HEED YOUR HUNCH ‘ tagline featured in the video that the ASA saw as a clear betting reference. The video also ended on full display with Betway’s logo and a responsible gambling message to “Bet the responsible way.” 18+ begambleaware.org”.
As such, the ASA considered it indistinguishable from an ordinary betting promo, which meant the presence of Rice was a breach of the CAP Code. Betway was ordered to be more careful in future, regardless of where they air, to exclude football jailbait from its promotions.