The UK Advertising Standards Authority has banned an online ad by French gaming operator Partouche which suggested that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.
The internet ad for Partouche Betting showed a banner which read "Bet to forget", "Click or regret". A second version of the ad featured the same text alongside a photograph of French footballer Eric Cantona dressed as a knight.
The complainant suggested that the ad was irresponsible, because it exploited the susceptibilities of vulnerable people by suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.
In its defence, Partouche said the campaign was based on the irony of enticing people in England to bet on the Euro 2008 championships despite the fact that England had not qualified for the final phase. The company said the ad was intended to be taken in the light-hearted context of asking people to forget their disappointment that England had not qualified, not to forget life's difficulties or personal problems.
Partouche had been warned by the CAP Copy Advice team that the "Bet to forget" claim might suggest that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems, however the company chose to ignore the advice.
The CAP Copy Advice team had also advised their agency against using the claim "Bet or regret", because it could portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life. Partouche said they followed that advice and instead used the claim "Click or regret", which they considered was different because it was merely an enticement to visit their website.
In its assessment, the ASA said it considered that the context of asking people to forget their disappointment that England had not qualified for Euro 2008 would not be clear to consumers initially viewing any version of the ad and the claim "Bet to forget" was therefore likely to be interpreted, particularly by vulnerable people, as suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.
"We were therefore concerned that it could exploit them," said the ASA, concluding that the ad was "irresponsible". The ASA added it was concerned that Partouche had ignored the advice from the Copy Advice team not to use the claim "Bet to forget".
The advertisements were found to have breached CAP Code clauses 57.2, 57.4b and 57.4c (Gambling). Partouche was ordered not to repeat the claims.