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An advert for the People’s Postcode Lottery must not appear again in current form after suggesting gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled.

Ad details

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The advert in question appeared in print in the Daily Mail on 1 July this year. It featured an advertorial with a headline, photo and further text describing the plans of a couple who had won a prize on the lottery.

The headline read: “Couple’s wedding is back on after they scooped £62,500 on People’s Postcode Lottery,” alongside another bubble stating “we had to postpone the wedding when Craig lost his job.” 

A photo of the couple holding a cheque for their winnings was accompanied by more text, providing further detail on the plans for their winnings.

“An NHS nurse and her fiancé, who had to put their plans to wed on hold when one of them was made redundant, are celebrating after winning People’s Postcode Lottery’s Millionaire Street prize,” the text read.

Other references to the couple’s situation, including that they had just paid the deposit for their wedding before finding out that one of them had been made redundant, were made.

“We had to put the wedding on hold because we didn’t know how long he’d be out of work. Awful thoughts go through your mind,” the text added.

It also referenced the fact that Craig, who had been made redundant, had just started a new job.

A complainant asked the ASA to determine whether or not the advert suggested that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns, thus breaching UK regulations on gambling advertising.

Operator response

In response, the People’s Postcode Lottery argued that the ad did not present lotteries as a solution to financial concerns, as it did not suggest the couple had been struggling financially before winning the prize.

While references to one member of the couple’s redundancy were made, the operator argued that as the only material financial impact of the prize was to be the resumption of their wedding plans – usually a large discretionary cost – it had not suggested gambling was a solution to serious financial difficulties.

The ad “did not present the couple as suffering from financial hardship, such as being unable to pay for day-to-day expenses such as food or bills,” People’s Postcode Lottery argued.

It is common, the operator further suggested, for gambling ads to highlight large wins enabling customers to buy items such as homes or cars, which would otherwise require them to save up large amounts of money.

The suggestion that the featured couple’s win allowed them to resume their wedding plans was more analogous with that kind of advert, it argued, rather than showing the couple using their winnings to overcome serious financial difficulties.

The Daily Mail added that it was not aware of having received any complaints about the advert.

It said it did not believe the ad implied that participation in the lottery was a way to achieve financial security, and did not suggest the couple had changed their lifestyle as a result of the win.

ASA assessment

The ASA ruled overall that the ad did suggest participating in a lottery was a way to solve financial concerns, and thus breached the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (CAP Code).

It considered that the ad suggested a direct connection between the couple winning the lottery and being able to resume their wedding plans.

It also suggested that the couple had continued to play the People’s Postcode Lottery after one of them had been made redundant.

Crucially, the ASA considered that the text: “We had to put the wedding on hold because we didn’t know how long he’d be out of work. Awful thoughts go through your mind,” suggested the couple had been stressed about the repercussions of not being able to pay for the wedding after the redundancy.

As the ad also made reference to the couple having previously paid a deposit for the wedding, the ASA said it implied the couple were financially committed to the decision, and that the ad suggested therefore that winning the prize had provided a solution to their financial concerns.

The ad must not appear again in its current form, and the ASA has reminded the People’s Postcode Lottery not to imply that participating in a lottery can be a solution to financial concerns.