Ladbrokes escapes ASA punishment over paid social media ad

Posted:: Jun 16, 2021 11:51 Category: Europe , Posted by Kai

The ASA ruled that Ladbrokes social media ad did not use any imagery or character from the 1985 film, ‘The Goonies’ as claimed by the complainant

Ladbrokes has come under fire for a social media ad that could of possibly targeted the younger generation demographic on 31 March 2021. The ad stated, “Play The Goonies Jpk at Ladbrokes. Get 30+ Free Spins on top of your £50…’.

The design included an image of a nautical map with text including the phrase “The Goonies” along with some realistic designs and logos such as “Jackpot King”.

The issue

The problem identified with this ad is that the “Goonies” reference could influence and target those under 18 years of age. This resulted in a complainant challenging the ad and evaluating whether it breached the Code.

Ladbrokes went on to state that the ad went through their internal review process before publishing, however, the ad was still removed from Facebook, any associated ad campaigns and Ladbrokes’ ad catalogue after receiving the complaint.

Furthermore, although the initial complainant showed concern over the use of “The Goonies” characters, Ladbrokes stated that their ad did not utilize any form of imagery or character from the popular film.


The argument to counter the complaint was that “The Goonies” is an old film released in 1985, therefore, the film will not be well known for children in 2021. While Ladbrokes stated that the post specifically targeted those aged 18 old & over and self-excluded users were also left out of the target list.

The result

The CAP Code states that gambling ads must no appeal to children or young persons associated within youth culture. The ASA understood that Ladbrokes took certain steps so that the ad will only reach those aged 18 or over, however, the targeting ad was based on audience type – meaning that users are able to self-report their age, therefore, there were no prohibitions on under-18s.

Goonies film - SiGMA News

This also means that certain necessary steps were not taken to ensure that those who falsely reported their age would not be exposed to the ad.

Since Ladbrokes took several steps to ensure that young adults and children would not be exposed to this ad, the ASA ruling decided to take another approach to determine the result. The film was released in 1985 with a heavy pirate-themed treasure hunt and the cast was predominantly children.

However, due to certain changes in time such as there being a lack of hype around the film from the new young generation – the ASA considered that since it was not a recent film then children were not likely to be familiar with it.

There were still some issues regarding the design of the ad as it may have appealed to the younger generation. However, given its popularity among the older generation due to its release date – it was less likely to target under 18s.
Furthermore, since the ad did not feature any of the films characters or imagery, while the designs were not of a cartoonish nature. Therefore, it was concluded that the ad did not appeal to under 18s and had not breached the Code.

Source: ASA

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