May 28, 2008

Online bingo: Number's up for William Hill ad featuring 'desperate' mum

The advertising regulator has banned a TV campaign by William Hill for breaking betting advertising rules by featuring a woman who was "desperate" to gamble and was hiding it from her family.

The William Hill ad promoting the company's online bingo opened with a man and a woman in a kitchen at breakfast time.

The woman hurries the man to work by winding the clock forward to make him think he is late for work.

"I get mine the minute he's out the door," the woman says. She then runs upstairs and logs on to William Hill bingo.

A voiceover states: "William Hill bingo ... a massive online community. When will you get your William Hill bingo thrill?"

The woman continues to play online bingo and move the hands of the clock back saying: "Doesn't time fly?"

The ad was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority on the grounds that it portrayed and condoned gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible and could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

The ASA received seven complaints, with some viewers objecting that the ad was harmful because it "depicted someone who was addicted to gambling and was attempting to hide that from their family by deception".

William Hill said that the ad was a "humorous" look at the "everyday scenario of a woman wanting to get on with her day once her husband had left the house, punctuated by taking a break to play bingo".

The company said the woman's behaviour was "light-hearted and did not portray, condone or encourage socially irresponsible behaviour or behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm".

However, the ASA said the clock-changing and comment: "I get mine the minute he has left" implied that the woman was "desperate to play bingo and was either unable to wait any longer or wanted to keep that secret from her husband".

The fact that the woman was rushing to play online bingo while still in her pyjamas, and moving the clock back to give her more time to play, "implied that she had to play urgently, rather than during a break in her day".

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