Ladbrokes Tweet Featuring Jake Paul KO’d by UK Ads Watchdog

Posted on: July 5, 2023, 07:58h. 

Last updated on: July 5, 2023, 12:34h.

A tweet produced by Ladbrokes and featuring internet celebrity Jake Paul didn’t include a call to action (CTA), didn’t entice anyone to place a bet, and didn’t target anyone under 18. Despite the message meeting the requirements of the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Ladbrokes was still forced to take it down.

Internet celeb and boxer Jake Paul before a boxing match
Internet celeb and boxer Jake Paul before a boxing match. A Ladbrokes tweet that included him has run afoul of UK advertising rules. (Image: Getty Images)

In February, Ladbrokes posted a promoted tweet about Paul’s recent loss to Tommy Fury, urging Twitter users to vote on Paul’s future. Only a single complaint was filed with the ASA to determine if this tweet breached the UK’s Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (CAP) Code.

That one complaint was enough for the ASA, which is responsible for enforcing the CAP Code. It reviewed the tweet and decided it violated the UK’s standards.

Much Ado About Nothing

The ASA raised inquiries regarding the ad, prompting Ladbrokes to clarify that it lacked any CTA, promotions, or website links. It emphasized that the ad had an age-restricted feature exclusively accessible to individuals aged 18 and above, as users are required to indicate their age.

In addition, Ladbrokes asserted that its ad targeted users over the age of 25 and only managed to garner about 16,500 views. Over 47% of these views came from individuals between the ages of 20 and 29, and the rest were allegedly from older age groups.

Ladbrokes has provided statistical data showcasing the extent of Paul’s social media following across various platforms. This information reveals that the proportion of users falling within the age range of 13 to 17 is less than 20% on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. It was also discovered that none of Paul’s followers on Twitter are under the age of 18.

That wasn’t enough justification for the ASA. It told the operator that the CAP Code explicitly forbids any ads that could potentially captivate children or young individuals, particularly if they seem enticing.

The ASA argued that Paul, because he’s popular on YouTube, has greater appeal to youngsters. Therefore, the tweet would have proven to be a “moderate risk” to them. As such, it had to be removed.

Contradictory Statements

The decision seemingly contradicts the CAP Code’s own guidance. It says in Section 14, “Sports like horse racing, greyhound racing, darts, snooker, boxing, motorsports, and golf are more adult-oriented and unlikely to be of inherent ‘strong’ appeal [to underage people].”

The ASA confirmed in its response to Ladbrokes that Paul had no followers under 18 on Twitter. However, it said he has an “inherent strong appeal” to the demographic, contradicting the Code’s own language.

Ladbrokes has no course to appeal the decision, which required the operator to remove the tweet and make sure it doesn’t appear again. The ASA also told it not to use anyone in any of its publications that have “strong appeal to those under 18 years of age,” although that’s a subjective characterization.

The UK has shown its determination in trying to suppress the gambling industry on numerous occasions in the past.