ASA Health

The Health Lottery ‘loser’ ad banned by ASA


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

January 30, 2013 | 2 min read

The ASA has upheld complaints against an ad for the Health Lottery, which saw people named themselves losers because they did not play in the Wednesday lottery draw and lost out on winning.

The TV ad saw a couple saying "We lost a brand new kitchen and a conservatory”; a woman saying "I lost a holiday to Barbados"; and a man standing in front of a sports car and saying he lost it.

Fourteen complainants objected that the ad was irresponsible, because they believed it suggested peer pressure to participate in the lottery or disparaged abstention, while eight complainants objected that the ad was irresponsible and exploited vulnerable people.

Clearcast said although the characters within the commercial were portrayed as losers, the treatment was sufficiently comedic and light-hearted not to be taken at face value and did not use peer pressure or disparage abstention. They said the items listed as having been "lost" were clearly only figments of the characters' imaginations and that the portrayal of people having lost items could be interpreted as a cautionary tale.

However, the ASA ruled that the people in the ad were acting ‘distressed or frustrated’, and suggested that "loser" was a pejorative term, which suggested viewers were "losers" if they did not participate.

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