No Fluff Story: Get Cute, and UK Operators Will PayPublished November 13, 2020 by Lee R
Financial penalties await operators who do not take a hard look at common advertising assumptions and associations.
The UK crackdown on cuteness is officially underway, with Advertising Standards Authority ASA crackdown GVC Holdings.
The exact perpetrator was GVC's Fluffy Favourites character. While cuddly enough, the cartoon-like Fluffy was perceived in a Facebook ad as an overly overt appeal to those too young to play.
The ASA called the cartoon-like ad imagery, the name, and the tagline for online slot “Fluffy Favourites” too likely to appeal to those under the UK's legal gambling age of 18.
Amusement and Arcade Branding
Fluffy Favorites designer Eyecon Games is known for its cute-themed slot reel symbols of stuffed animal toys, reminiscent of claw crane machines at arcades.
New guidelines in the UK are taking issue with the appeal that amusement associations have for youth.
How GVC Got "Too Cute"
In the GVC example the ASA cited an eight-second video ad promoting GVC iGaming brand Gala Spins, which was introduced on the Gala Spins official Facebook page open only to those over 18.
GVC defends that neither the game nor the ad targets children; with the video part of a greater ad campaign actually targeting a British women female segment between 18 and 65 that previously demonstrated an interest in online gambling.
Gala Spins even provided specific analytics confirming everyone who had seen the ad was over 18.
ASA Increases Accountability
The ASA called the protections insufficient nonetheless, stating basically that under 18's falsely reporting their age or obtaining passwords could still see the ads which showed content “of particular appeal to children,” in violation of regulation 16.1 of the social responsibility code for iGaming ads.
The New Codes of Protection
These codes are part of the UKGC's greater ban on advertising gambling games that might appeal to children implemented in February 2019, including those featuring cartoon characters.
Reason for Concern
In a country where UKGC estimates 55,000 out of all 11- to 16-year-olds are classified as problem gamblers, the onus clearly falls on operators to edit content associated with amusement parks and arcades where youth populations commonly populate. Further, restrictions against youth use are not enough to relieve operators of accountability for content they publish.
The path to adopting advertising is clear for UK operators to avoid financial penalties in this new, less cute era.