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Buzz Bingo slapped by ASA for Halloween marketing

by Bela Ksovreli
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In the UK, Buzz Bingo was reprimanded by Advertising Standards Authority for an advertisement that included Halloween-themed images. The ASA ruled that this content might appeal to young children.

The Buzz Bingo ad appeared on Facebook October 2023. Buzz Bingo posted the ad on its Facebook page.

This ad featured animated video of a full-moon above scenes with pumpkin heads, church towers with roofs that looked like witches’ caps, flying bats, spiders in webs and graveyards with tombstones and crosses. The text was also in slime-like font and read: “Monster Mondays” – PS50,000 is to be won each Monday during October.

In the complaint, it was alleged that Halloween cartoons were likely to be appealing to children. It also questioned whether they violated advertising regulations.

Buzz Bingo responded to the complaint by defending the advertisement. The ad was posted on Buzz Bingo’s Facebook page, which is only accessible to Facebook users 18 and older. The ad is part of an advertising campaign aimed at bingo enthusiasts over the age 25.

Buzz Bingo explained that it had taken these precautions in order to protect children and youth from exposure to the advertisement. It also admitted that the Halloween images could be appealing to children, and removed the ad and changed its internal marketing approval procedure.

Buzz Bingo Advert must never appear again

The ASA maintained the complaint in its ruling. The ASA noted that the CAP Code states “advertisements must not be of great appeal to children and young people”.

The Code states that animated content may give the impression of a material being aimed at children. Ads should not use childish background images.

According to the ASA, Halloween and its traditions are likely to be appealing for kids. The ASA also said that the cartoon images in the advertisement were reminiscent of stories and cartoons for children, and the word “monster” could appeal to them.

It was therefore of the opinion that this ad would appeal strongly to children.

The ASA said that it was acceptable to place the advert in a media where the under-18 audience could be excluded. This would only apply if the audience of the advert had their age verified.

The ASA found that Buzz Bingo did not exclude under-18s with the level of accuracy necessary for advertisements where the content is likely to be appealing to young people.

The ASA acknowledged Buzz Bingo’s response to the complaints. The ASA concluded that the ad violated CAP Code Rules 16.1 and 163.12 and was irresponsible.

Buzz Bingo has been ordered not to run the advertisement in its current form again. In future, the ASA urged Buzz Bingo to avoid themes and imagery that would appeal strongly to people under 18.

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