Modern Marketing

British Airways in hot water over ad that glamorises gambling

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By Imogen Watson | Senior reporter

January 9, 2019 | 3 min read

A number of complaints have been made to the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) criticising British Airways (BA) for irresponsibly glamorising gambling in a TV ad.

The BA Holidays ad has been met with scrutiny from anti-gambling campaigners and members of parliament.

The ad sees a couple pleased as punch with themselves as they return to their hotel room. The source of their happiness? The fact that a quick detour via the casino from a relaxing dip in the hotel pool transformed a handful of loose change into $493.

BA

BA in hot water over ad that glamorises gambling

“We had a bit of spare change so we put it in the slot machines… and won a couple of dollars. So we put it back in and the next thing we knew we’d won $493. Luckiest dip ever,” they said.

The former Conservative leader, Iain Duncan Smith, has slammed the ad, stating he is “stunned” by the subject matter, before announcing that he will be taking the matter further with cross-party colleagues.

He commented: “Utterly appalling. What were they thinking?”

Following Smith’s criticism, a cross-party parliamentary group of MPs are expected to contact the BA to condemn the ad for making gambling attractive.

The complaints come in the wake of a recent backlash against a surge in gambling ads.

After mounting pressure to protect children, vulnerable people and addicts from overexposure to gambling, at the end of 2018, the gambling industry confirmed plans for a voluntary ban on betting adverts during sports programs.

A spokeswoman for the ASA confirmed to The Drum that the ad had received several complaints, for promoting gambling and "portraying it in a glamorous and frivolous way, and that it’s therefore irresponsible."

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However, the complaints are still in the assessment stage.

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