The ASA upheld the initial complaint, citing the fact that Iron Man, like most Marvel superheroes, atracts many younger fans. Ladbrokes stopped running the campaign in order to comply with the CAP code which governs non-broadcast advertising and marketing.
Ladbrokes followed up the decision by informing the ASA that their email offers are only ever sent to registered customers or interested parties who were over the age of 18. The company insisted the image of Iron Man used in the email was one that couldn’t be seen by anyone under the age of 18, which meant that the campaign itself couldn’t possibly appeal to children.
The betting company also said that the image used was adult themed, and pointed out that most Marvel fans were adults – a statement backed up by Comic Con attendance figures and Facebook demographics – with the majority being in the 18 to 37 age range.
The ASA considered the appeal and decided to reverse their earlier decision. ‘We understood that Iron Man was a popular character that would appeal to many adults but considered its comic book nature, and the availability of various related toys, meant it was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people,’ said the ASA’s official statement on the issue.
‘Nevertheless, we noted that the ad was sent by email only to registered customers and others who had been validated as being over 18 years of age. Unlike other media that was not directed at children or young persons but that they could nevertheless be exposed to, we considered that in this instance Ladbrokes had targeted the email to ensure it was extremely unlikely that anybody under 18 years of age would see the ad.
‘Although the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and young persons, we concluded that because the ad would not be seen by them, it was not irresponsible.’
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