Ladbrokes adverts banned for attracting under-18s with football managers

The advertising watchdog has banned two adverts run by the sports betting business Ladbrokes for appealing to under-18s by featuring well-known Premier League managers including Frank Lampard and Eddie Howe.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation into the two promoted tweets, published in January and February, after concerns that the use of images of managers of top flight teams would break UK rules banning ads that have a “strong appeal” to young people under 18 years old.

One tweet showed two images of Howe, the manager of Newcastle FC, comparing the club’s rise up the overall rankings in the last two seasons, with the strapline “Eddie Howe’s one-year masterclass”.

The tweet featuring images of the Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe and the text saying ‘19th in 2022 v 3rd in 2023. Eddie Howe’s one-year masterclass.’
The tweet featuring the Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe. Photograph: ASA/PA

The second tweet ran with the headline “Ladbrokes next manager to leave odds” with the names and images of four managers including Lampard, who was most recently the caretaker manager at Chelsea FC, as well as David Moyes, Brendan Rodgers and Gary O’Neil.

The full tweet featuring odds on managers’ departures.
The full tweet featuring odds on managers’ departures. Photograph: ASA/PA

Ladbrokes said the first tweet had been intended to be “editorial content” with no offer, web link or encouragement to bet, and that most of Howe’s career had been spent managing lower league clubs, meaning it was unlikely he would appeal to young people.

Howe has spent much of his recent managerial career in charge of the Premier League clubs Bournemouth and Newcastle.

The betting company admitted that the second tweet, which contained market prices to bet on the next Premier League manager to lose his job, had “inadvertently” used imagery of the managers, which it acknowledged was against standard procedure for commercial content.

Last year, the ASA introduced new regulations banning gambling companies from using ads that feature top-flight footballers and other sports personalities, as well as reality TV and social media stars, designed to protect under-18s and other vulnerable groups.

The ASA said that managers of Premier League clubs were considered a “high risk” for use in ads because of the large number of under-18s that played or followed football, and that the sport had an “exceptionally high” media profile.

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“Premier League managers would be well known to those who followed football, and in particular fans of the clubs they managed, including children,” said the ASA. “All five managers were likely to be of strong appeal to under-18s.”

The ASA said the Ladbrokes’ ads were irresponsible and breached UK marketing rules.

“The ads must not appear again in their current form,” said the ASA. “We told Ladbrokes not to include people or characters who had strong appeal to those under 18 years of age in their advertising.”


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