In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned advertisements from Partouche Betting that featured former French soccer player Eric Cantona for suggesting that gambling was an escape from personal problems.
The adverts from the European gambling company were part of a $4.3 million campaign that included television and online commercials that ran throughout this summer’s Euro 2008 football tournament. They featured images of Cantona dressed as a medieval king over the straplines Bet To Forget and Click Or Regret.
The commercials poked fun at England's failure to qualify for the soccer tournament and encouraged people to bet online. They also linked through to a website with a number of ‘King’ Eric films where the former Manchester United striker told punters ‘Europe kicked you out of the Euro, who cares?’, ‘Bet to forget’ and ‘To bet or not to bet? There is no question’.
The standards watchdog stated that it had received a complaint regarding the digital adverts being irresponsible because they ‘exploited the susceptibilities of vulnerable people’ and suggested that gambling could ‘provide an escape from personal problems’. The ASA also challenged whether the claim ‘Click Or Regret’ portrayed gambling as an indispensable pastime.
Partouche countered by stating that the adverts were simply a ‘light-hearted’ take on England's disappointment and that the campaign was only meant to be seen in the context of Euro 2008.
However, the ASA stated that none of the digital ads, whether featuring Cantona or not, explained the link to Euro 2008 and the ‘Bet To Forget’ claim. It also said that the ‘Click Or Regret’ claim also implied that gambling took priority in life.