ASA Clears BetMGM’s Chris Rock Ad, Flags Another for LeoVegas

ASA Clears BetMGM’s Chris Rock Ad Flags Another for LeoVegas
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In an interesting development in the UK’s advertising landscape, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently made rulings on two gambling ads. This has sparked debate on celebrity endorsements and their influence on minors.

Key takeaways

  • The UK’s ASA has found BetMGM’s TV advertisement featuring Chris Rock compliant with national advertising standards, despite concerns it appealed to minors.
  • The ad, featuring a journey from the Bellagio fountain to the Thames River with fireworks, was aimed at promoting BetMGM’s products.
  • Complaints were raised about the potential appeal to younger audiences. But LeoVegas, the MGM subsidiary, defended the choice of Chris Rock, highlighting his appeal is to adults, not minors.
  • ASA concluded that Chris Rock’s roles in children-oriented movies were too insignificant to appeal to minors. Plus, his social media following among British under-18s was negligible.
  • Another ad by LeoVegas promoting BetUK was flagged by the ASA due to the inclusion of Adebayo Akinfenwa, who has a significant underage following.

A Lion, A Legend and a Little Controversy

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently found itself in the spotlight. That’s because, the ASA decided that a TV advertisement featuring comedic giant Chris Rock, which aired in October 2023, did not breach the UK’s strict advertisement regulations concerning appeal to minors. The ad, a visually captivating journey featuring Rock and a lion travelling from the iconic Bellagio fountain to London’s Thames River, culminating in a grand display of MGM-themed fireworks, aimed to leave an indelible mark on viewers. It also served to promote BetMGM’s offerings while advocating for responsible gambling in the UK.

The Controversy and the Defense

Despite its ambitious vision, the ad quickly became the centre of controversy. Some viewers argued that its content and celebrity endorsement by Chris Rock could appeal to a younger demographic. Given the heightened sensitivity around gambling ads and their influence on minors, the complaints were serious enough to warrant a review by the ASA.

In response, LeoVegas Casino, a subsidiary of BetMGM’s parent company, defended their choice of Chris Rock as the face of the campaign. According to LeoVegas, Chris Rock, at 58, hardly holds appeal among the UK’s children and adolescents. They argued that Rock’s career, predominantly filled with roles and stand-up routines geared towards adult audiences, coupled with his limited presence in children’s animation—such as “Madagascar” and a minor role in “Paw Patrol”—are either too dated or insignificant to resonate with today’s youth.

ASA’s Verdict

In coming to its decision, the ASA, supported by evidence from Clearcast–a pre-approver of most British TV ads–took into consideration Rock’s minimal following among British under-18s on social media. In fact, it found that the following amounted to barely over a thousand. After a thorough evaluation, the authority agreed with LeoVegas’ argument. It also concluded that Chris Rock’s cinematic involvement in children-targeted movies does not significantly impact his appeal to minors.

A Tale of Two Ads

However, in a twist of events, the ASA did not share the same sentiment towards another LeoVegas ad. The ad promoted its BetUK sports betting brand on the radio, featuring retired soccer player Adebayo Akinfenwa. Despite LeoVegas’ assertions to the contrary, the ASA pointed out Akinfenwa’s substantial minor following on social media, leading to the ad being flagged for potentially appealing to an underage audience.

This tale of two ads underlines the delicate balance companies must achieve in leveraging celebrity endorsements for gambling advertisements without crossing the fine line into appealing to minors. As advertisers navigate these choppy waters, the recent rulings by the ASA serve as a reminder of the critical need for careful consideration of content and celebrity choice in marketing strategies, and the ongoing controversy surrounding advertising standards in sensitive sectors.

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Emily Thompson
Emily Thompson
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Emily is our Casino Researcher and statistical mastermind. She uncovers all the latest trends through the numbers and creates valuable insights to our readers and internally, so we can cover our articles and journalism from a statistical background and angle.

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