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A BetMGM TV advert featuring Hollywood star Chris Rock does not violate UK advertising code, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA received three complaints challenging whether the ad, which aired on 4 October 2023, included a personality likely to appeal to minors under the age of 18, thus breaching the advertising code.

The TV short showcased the comedian spinning a ball on his finger while saying: “We’re BetMGM and we know how to put on a show.” 

It featured imagery of a gold boat with a lion in the Bellagio fountain as Rock proclaimed: “With tools to help you play safe. Get ready for the golden era in sports betting.” 

The ad concluded with him saying: “BetMGM IT’S SHOWTIME,” accompanied by the same on-screen text.

Defending Chris Rock

In its response to the complaints, MGM subsidiary LeoVegas defended its choice of Rock as the ambassador for the campaign. 

The operator said it conducted a thorough assessment to ensure that Rock would not strongly appeal to anyone under the age of 18. 

LeoVegas argued that Rock is primarily known for his adult-oriented stand-up comedy and acting roles and emphasised Rock’s age (58).

It also evaluated Rock’s roles in child-focused animation films, citing that his appearances were either dated or insignificant.

Moreover, the operator highlighted the ad’s adult-oriented themes and imagery, including references to Las Vegas, a destination primarily aimed at adults. 

It also provided data on Rock’s social media following, indicating that the vast majority of his followers were over 18.

In addition, Clearcast, the body responsible for clearing TV ads, supported the rationale.

Clearcast said the data showed Rock had 43,400 under-18 followers globally across his social media accounts, and that only 1,075 of those were based in the UK. 

ASA’s decision

The ASA, after assessing Rock’s career profile, social media demographics, and the content of the ad itself, concluded that the ad was not of strong appeal to children or young people. 

Key considerations included Rock’s predominantly adult-oriented image and the limited prominence of his roles in productions targeted at younger audiences.

The ASA noted Rock’s prominent voice role in the “Madagascar” animated film series but highlighted the time elapsed since its main releases, suggesting current under-18s might not strongly associate his voice with his image.

Additionally, Rock’s portrayal of minor characters in children’s films such as The Witches and Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie was taken into account. 

While Paw Patrol is popular among children, the ASA stated that Rock’s voice was heard for only five seconds, and thus not “sufficiently prominent or significant to render him of strong appeal to under-18s.”

MrQ.com Santa ad

In a separate ruling, the ASA ruled that a Facebook ad for MrQ.com did appeal to those under the age of 18 and concluded that it should not be displayed again in current form.

The paid-for ad, which appeared on 23 December 2023, featured text inviting users to “Deposit £20 and get 75 Free Spins,” accompanied by festive emojis including a Santa Claus and a gift.

Underneath the text, the ad displayed an image of a cartoon Santa driving a snow plough beneath the banner of the “BIG BASS Christmas BASH” game logo. 

A second image depicted the same Santa driving a vehicle alongside an elf holding a colourful bazooka.

In response, Lindar Media, the company behind MrQ.com, acknowleged that the imagery in the ad may be deemed as ”likely to appeal strongly to children.”

However, the operator stressed it had taken measures to ensure the ad was not viewed by anyone under 25 by employing Facebook’s targeting tools to restrict its audience.

However, the ASA deemed that the depiction of Santa Claus and the Christmas elf, along with the festive theme, was likely to attract children’s attention.

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