Insights What factors could tip the balance for satisfying Strong Appeal Test?

The issue

The ASA challenged whether a Ladbrokes’ promoted tweet, containing the image of Jake Paul, was likely to be of “strong appeal” under the CAP’s new rule that gambling and lottery ads must not “be likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture” (the “Strong Appeal Test”).

In response to the ASA’s challenge, Ladbrokes said that: (a) the ad itself was published after a fight between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury and that there were no calls to action, promotional offers or links back to the Ladbrokes site; and (b) in addition, the respective tweet was age gated and could not be accessed by users under the age of 18. However, we know from previous decisions that neither the fact that the ad was: (i) absent a promotional offer; nor (ii) age-gated using Twitter data, is enough to override the Strong Appeal Test.

The decision

The ASA upheld the decision citing Jake Paul’s large following across a number of social media platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. Despite his followers on Twitter being over the age of 18, Jake Paul had some 3 million followers under the age of 18 on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram. Given his social media presence, activity and following of under 18s, and his particular involvement in youth-related culture areas, such as children’s TV programmes, the ASA considered that he was of “inherent strong appeal to under-18s”. As such, the ad breached rules 16.1, 16.3 and 16.3.12 of the CAP Code.

What we’ve learned

While boxing is primarily considered an “adult” sport, the ruling demonstrates that social media demographics of the individual, even where the sport itself is not of inherent strong appeal to children, will tip the balance as to whether the ad satisfies the Strong Appeal Test. As such, where an individual is proposed to feature in a gambling ad and operators are assessing them under the Strong Appeal Test, the following should be noted as red flags: (i) the presence of an individual’s TikTok following; and (ii) a more than insignificant proportion (probably c.5%) of that individual’s relevant social media account following being in the under 25 demographic.