Advertising Standards Authority issued a strong warning for COVID-19 misuse

Advertising Standards Authority issued a strong warning for COVID-19 misuse

Published on 09/04/2020

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a strong warning to the industry with regard to the nature and frequency of its advertising and that it will be under particular scrutiny whilst we remain in ‘lockdown’.

ASA will be taking firm action against gambling advertising that does not meet the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) standards, taking into account the context of the crisis and how it might affect consumers’ expectations and behaviour.

Consumers are also being encouraged to report problems with the recent launch of a reporting process that enables people to quickly notify the ASA of COVID-19 related claims in ads that take advantage of anxieties and vulnerabilities during the pandemic.

Alongside their ordinary complaints processes the ASA are encouraging people to report gambling ads that:

  • refer to the COVID-19 crisis or related matters, such as the government’s lockdown policy; and/or
  • include claims or themes that are of particular concern in the current climate (e.g. ads that refer to relieving boredom, repeated play or personal problems like family difficulties).

The ASA have stated: “In ordinary times, ads following this kind of approach are likely to raise compliance concerns. The present circumstances exacerbate this, so the ASA will not hesitate to take firm action against irresponsible messaging in gambling ads. To this end, we will continue our close working relationship with the UK’s licensing authority, the Gambling Commission, to identify issues and enforce compliance.”

ASA and CAP will also be using avatar technology to ensure gambling ads are not being served to under 18.

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