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Gambling Advertising Violations in Ireland: Conor McGregor and Santa Claus

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The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) recently upheld a series of complaints regarding various ads, including a social media promotion for Conor McGregor’s Forged Irish Stout and a gambling ad featuring Santa Claus. These ads, among others, were found to breach the ASAI’s Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications.

Conor McGregor’s Forged Irish Stout Ad Controversy

Last month, former multi-weight UFC champion Conor McGregor, now an ambassador for online casino 88Malaysia, found himself at the center of a controversy. An Instagram reel promoting Forged Irish Stout Distribution, McGregor’s brewery, drew complaints for its sexualized content. The ad highlighted several female models in “cropped tops and high-leg hotpants” drinking pints of stout, posing next to a car, and alongside someone dressed as a can of Forged Stout.

The ASAI committee agreed with the complaint, noting that the advertisement placed “significant emphasis” on the models’ “cleavage and bottoms” through various camera angles. They described the ad as “sexually suggestive” and objectifying, deeming it an irresponsible way to depict women. The ad was flagged for its inappropriate content, which was seen as promoting an unhealthy representation of women in media.

Santa Claus Gambling Ad Criticized

In another case, a gambling ad from Jesters Casino featured Santa Claus sitting next to a slot machine. This poster, displayed within the casino, was criticized for potentially targeting children, given Santa’s broad appeal. Upon being informed of the complaint, the casino promptly removed the ad. The ASAI emphasized that characters appealing to children should not be used in gambling advertisements as it could lead to a younger audience being unduly influenced.

Other Ad Violations

In total, 18 recent complaints were upheld by the ASAI, indicating widespread breaches of advertising standards. Among these, a radio ad for Centra, Ireland’s leading convenience retail group, was noted for delivering its “enjoy alcohol sensibly” disclaimer too quickly. The ASAI stressed the importance of clear and attentive disclaimers in alcohol advertising. Disclaimers are crucial in ensuring that consumers understand the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Additionally, a post from The Newpark Hotel featuring a cocktail failed to include a required responsibility message. This omission was seen as a failure to adequately inform consumers about drinking responsibly. Other complaints included Zalando’s discount code ad for jeans, an ad for a school claiming to have “Ireland’s Best Teachers,” an AA ad claiming “unlimited” windscreen cover, ads misrepresenting the walking distance to Dublin’s city center, various milk ads, and a Bourke Builders ad for a commercial property with non-existent advertised premises. Each of these ads failed to meet the ASAI’s standards in different ways, from making misleading claims to not including necessary disclaimers.

These cases highlight the ASAI’s ongoing efforts to enforce advertising standards in Ireland. From objectification in alcohol ads to misleading claims in property advertisements, the ASAI continues to monitor and uphold its Code of Standards to ensure responsible marketing practices. This enforcement is seen as crucial in maintaining consumer trust and ensuring that advertisements are not only truthful but also respectful of all individuals.

Gambling Advertising Laws

Gambling advertising laws in Ireland are designed to ensure that promotions and marketing related to gambling are conducted responsibly and ethically. ASAI enforces strict guidelines to protect consumers from misleading advertisements and to prevent the targeting of vulnerable groups, particularly minors.

At the European Union level, gambling advertising is regulated by a combination of national laws and overarching EU directives aimed at ensuring a safe and fair gambling environment. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is one such regulation that sets out standards for advertising, sponsorship, and product placement in the context of gambling. For example, the AVMSD prohibits gambling ads that specifically target minors or depict gambling as a solution to financial or personal problems, since statistically they have a high chance of a negative impact on the psychology of the individuals who see them. The European Commission also supports member states in sharing best practices and coordinating policies to address cross-border gambling issues, ensuring a harmonized approach to gambling advertising across the EU. This dual framework of national and EU regulations helps create a balanced and consumer-protective environment for gambling advertisements.


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