HB Ad Slot
HB Mobile Ad Slot
Timely reminder from the ASA to avoid falling foul of advertising codes during UEFA Euro 2024
Saturday, June 15, 2024

As we’re gearing up for an exciting summer of sport, the attention of many football fans will be drawn to the kick-off of the UEFA Euro 2024 Football Championships in Germany. Many businesses will be looking to take advantage of the hype and interest in the tournament, particularly if England can progress deep into the knockout stages, as many will hope they can.

In light of the advertising and marketing opportunities that the tournament presents, the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA) has published guidance to remind marketers of key issues to consider in order to avoid breaching its advertising codes, namely: the broadcast advertising code (the BCAP Code), covering adverts shown via broadcast media; and the non-broadcast code (the CAP Code), covering adverts shown via any other media (together, the Advertising Codes).

Avoid Misleading Endorsements

Although marketers will undoubtedly want their brands to be associated with the tournament, national teams and players, the ASA has warned against misleading audiences by falsely implying there are official player, team and /or tournament endorsements and sponsorships (CAP Code and BCAP Code, Rule 3.45).

Marketers should ensure that they have obtained the relevant consents, permissions, and licences to permit any testimonials, endorsements and/or other IP that is included in its marketing communications. The ASA will consider the overall impression created by the relevant marketing communications (including text, images, symbols and icons) in making any assessment as to whether the relevant communications are misleading.

Avoid Gambling on Compliance

For some time, the Advertising Codes have prohibited players under the age of 25 from appearing in gambling ads. However, as covered in one of previous blogs, the rules restricting the content of gambling ads were tightened in October 2022 ahead of the last major international football tournament, being the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Since then, as covered in another of our blogs, a number of advertisers have fallen foul of the amended rules as a result of featuring footballers, pundits and managers in their gambling ads.

The amended Advertising Codes prohibit all gambling ads that are “likely to be of strong appeal to children or young persons, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture”. More specifically, the amended rules provide that gambling ads must not include “a person or character” who has strong appeal to under-18s. Similarly, ads for gambling products associated with “activities” that are of strong appeal to under-18s should be avoided, unless appropriate steps are taken to limit their appeal.

For example, under the ASA’s guidance, insofar as it relates to football:

  • “high risk” persons to feature in gambling ads include:
  • UK footballers and managers who represent top clubs, UK national teams or compete in high-profile competitions; and
  • Non-UK “star” footballers and managers at top European clubs; and
  • football is an activity which has an “inherent strong appeal” to under-18s.

To comply with the restrictions on gambling ads under the Advertising Codes, the following precautions are important to consider in the context of Euro 2024:

  • Avoid using footballers or managers who are inherently “high-risk” according to the ASA’s guidance, as commented on above;
  • Avoid using footballers who are under 25;
  • Avoid using broadcast media through the radio and television, and instead limiting the ads to age-restricted platforms where verification is achieved by marketing lists that have been validated by payment data; and
  • Carefully check the social media of football stars used in ads to ensure there is not a significant following of under 18s.

For a full list of the relevant gambling rules under the Advertising Codes, advertisers should consult Section 16 of the CAP Code and Section 17 of the BCAP Code.

Steering Clear of Stereotypes and Causing Offence

Notably, the ASA prohibits advertisements from including stereotypes which are likely to “cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”. In particular, during Euro 2024, care must be taken around gender and race (BCAP and CAP Code 4.1). In addition, marketers should ensure that adverts are not seen to be encouraging violence or anti-social behaviour, both of which are also prohibited (BCAP Code 4.9; CAP Code 4.4).

Whilst the overall tone of the ad will be considered, ASA has warned “it’s just banter” is not an excuse!

Advertising Alcohol Responsibly

The ASA’s guidance reminds advertisers specifically to ensure that they comply with the specific rules governing alcohol advertising. These are set out at Section 18 of the CAP Code and Section 19 of the BCAP Code. In particular, the ASA points to the rules requiring advertisers to ensure that alcohol ads:

  • do not reflect the culture of people under 18 (CAP Code 18.14, BCAP Code 19.15.1);
  • do not include celebrities or influencers likely to appeal particularly to under 18’s (CAP Code 18.14; BCAP Code 19.15.2);
  • are not directed at under-18s in any way (including, for example, in terms of context or content) (CAP Code, 18.14; BCAP Code 19.16.1);
  • do not show in a significant role people who are, or appear to be, under the age of 25 (CAP Code 18.16; BCAP Code 19.17);
  • do not suggest that alcohol has therapeutic qualities or can change moods or enhance confidence, mental or physical capabilities or performance, popularity or sporting achievements (CAP Code, 18.7; BCAP Code 19.8); and
  • do not endorse excessive consumption (CAP Code 18.1; BCAP Code 19.2).

Takeaways

Although the above points should be considered by marketers in the context of their marketing of the Euros, the ASA’s guidance should also be considered in the context of other major upcoming sporting events too, including, in particular, the Olympic Games as well as annual classics such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

The fact that the ASA has published its guidance in the lead up to the Euros can be seen as evidence that it will be paying close attention to ads published in the context of the tournament, especially those promoting alcoholic drinks and gambling products which are specifically covered.

Whilst the ASA’s guidance refers specifically to ASA compliance, advertisers should also ensure that they comply with regulations aimed at protecting both businesses and consumers from unfair trading and misleading marketing, as well as English common law rules which apply to advertising practices. For example, advertisers who wrongly suggest that a product is endorsed by or affiliated in some way to an event, team or individual may also run the risk of facing “passing off” claims.

HB Ad Slot
HB Mobile Ad Slot
HB Ad Slot
HB Mobile Ad Slot
HB Ad Slot
HB Mobile Ad Slot
 

NLR Logo

We collaborate with the world's leading lawyers to deliver news tailored for you. Sign Up to receive our free e-Newsbulletins

 

Sign Up for e-NewsBulletins