altThis month, the owners of Mirror Bingo and Casino – Trinity Mirror Plc - have had their proverbial hand slapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for breaching their CAP codes, following just one complaint. The press ad featured their online casino in a national daily newspaper owned by the same company, stating that new members could claim a “Free £5 to Play with Today,” alongside a number of cartoon characters, including a robot named Optimus Prime, from the popular children’s TV series and film, Transformers.

In a complaint reminiscent of Facebook’s first pay-to-play application (Bingo Friendzy,) the member of the public’s objection was that the advert was irresponsible as it was likely to appeal to children.

The Mirror Bingo parent company stated that the ad featured the character, Optimus Prime, as one of their online casino games is Transfomers-branded. They went on to claim that the use of the image was therefore, not targeted at those under 18 years old, and was only one of three images used to indicate the look and feel of to potential new players. They also added that the advertisements had only appeared in the ‘Money’ section of the paper, and clearly indicated that the website was for over 18’s only, and those wanting to play would be required to provide valid credit card details, and successfully pass their online age verification system. Whilst Trinity denied that the promotion was likely to appeal to children, and was therefore, not irresponsible, they did promise not to re-run the adverts, nor use the Transformers image in the future.

The ASA agreed that there was no direct intention to target under-age players due to the inclusion of the ad in the ‘Money’ section. However, they decided that it did breach various rules regarding social responsibility and gambling, as the popular comic book character was still likely to appeal to youngsters regardless of the context in which it appeared. They, therefore, advised the company to not use the advert again in its current form, nor use images in the future that were likely to appeal to children.

The Advertising Standards Authority is considered “the UK’s independent regulator for advertising across all media.” Do you think that in this instance, they've done their job? Or perhaps you think that the ASA should have to receive a significant number of complaints before deciding to uphold objections?