Creating an appealing ad can be quite a challenge, even more so when you have to be careful about every word you use. According to the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the marketing and creative team at Paddy Power crossed the line of what is deemed acceptable. The authority filed a complaint about the language used in a promotional campaign. To be more exact, it disliked the phrase “risk-free bet” that was used in an advert on the website of the popular British tabloid newspaper The Sun. How did Flutter, the company behind Paddy Power, react? It’s time to find out!
The ASA noticed the questionable ad on the tabloid’s website. The ad was inviting players to take advantage of the “£20 risk-free first bet”, and was specifically targeting customers from the UK and Ireland. Bonus terms related to this deal stated that the gambling company would return all the money placed in the first bet in the event that it proved to be a losing one. Even though there is no direct financial risk involved, the ASA concluded that it was socially irresponsible. In its opinion, there is no such thing as “risk-free” in gambling.
In its defense, Flutter, the company that operates Paddy Power, PokerStars, and many other popular online casino brands, claimed that the term “risk-free” is not forbidden by law. However, it also showed a willingness to do better in the future. In fact, Flutter went as far as to say it will not use the term in its future campaigns. The ASA welcomed the decision.
The United Kingdom is not the only market that pays a lot of attention to how, when, and in what context certain terms are used. Marketing restrictions are no longer something new, as an increasing number of authorities are imposing limits on how and when gambling companies can advertise. Also, it is no surprise that Flutter has chosen to accept the criticism so peacefully. Furthermore, both the Irish and UK regulators are considering imposing new limitations on gambling ads.
Before giving up on “risk-free bets”, Flutter also announced that it will pull away from football sponsorship deals in Ireland. The main reason behind this decision is the voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling ads. The ban was introduced by the Irish Bookmakers Association. It will be in effect five minutes before the live event, during the event, and five minutes after the match has ended. Still, this limit will be applied only to events broadcast before 9 PM. The only exception to this rule will be horse racing and greyhound racing.