William Hill and Betfair rapped over ads in Looney Tunes app

William Hill and Betfair rapped over ads in Looney Tunes app

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued warnings to William Hill and Flutter Entertainment after their adverts appeared on a mobile gaming app primarily aimed at children.

Published 19th June 2019

Earlier this year, adverts for Flutter’s Betfair Bingo brand and William Hill Vegas featured in Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem, an app where players build worlds based on Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes cartoons and collect characters.

However, due to the content of the app, the ASA queried as to whether these ads were appropriately targeted.

Flutter Entertainment said its ad was placed by mobile engagement platform Tapjoy, adding that the app’s publisher Scopely had mistakenly opted in to accepting advertising content at a ‘mature-plus’ level for the app.

Tapjoy said it immediately corrected the error once it was flagged by Scopely, but Scopely said the ad was inadvertently placed by Tapjoy.

William Hill also placed blame with the game publisher, but also said that the ad should not have appeared in the app regardless of who was at fault for the error. The bookmaker has now blacklisted the app so its ads will no longer appear via Tapjoy or any other affiliate.

Tapjoy played down the issue of children using the app and seeing the ads, saying adults of a certain age associated the Looney Tunes with their own childhood.

However the ASA opted to uphold its complaint, saying the app had a PEGI 7 rating in the UK Google Play store, making it suitable for all players aged seven or over.

The ASA acknowledged the characters would be known to older players and the app would have a general appeal, and also accepted the ad had been labelled correctly and it was the fault of the app for carrying the ads.

However, it said the app was likely to be of particular appeal to minors, noting Tapjoy’s platform allowed advertisers to target campaigns using interest-based data gathered from gaming preferences and self-reported demographic data, such as dates of birth.

Neither William Hill nor Flutter had used these options, placing them in breach of several regulations.

The ASA said the ads must not be used again without specific targeting to minimise the likelihood of under-18s seeing them, while William Hill, Flutter and Tapjoy have been warned to ensure ads were appropriately targeted in future.