ASA Rules against Betfred for Anthony Joshua social media posts
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered Betfred to remove three posts on X, formerly twitter, featuring heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua due to Joshua’s extensive social media following.
The ASA contended whether the social media ads by Betfred were in breach of the CAP Code on gambling advertising, which prohibits the use of well-known individuals adjudged to have ‘strong appeal’ to those under 18.
In March and April this year, posts which featured three interviews with the former world champion were posted on Twitter/X. The first two were interviews conducted by Dom McGuinness, with one focusing on his then upcoming fight against Jermaine Franklin and the other around how he prepares for fights.
The last post was a discussion about the boxer’s mentality in the run up to and during a fight, with accompanying text stating “‘I’m going in there with pure confidence because I know the work I’ve done’ There are NO doubts in @AnthonyJoshua’s mind ahead of his fight with Jermaine Franklin! Full interview #JoshuaFranklin”.
In its response to the ASA’s challenge, Petfre (Gibraltar) Ltd – the registered name of Betfred – argued that boxing is classed as an ‘adult-oriented sport’ in CAP guidelines, with most high-profile fights, such as those involving Joshua, often shown late at night and viewable by a pay-per-view system.
Previous rulings have backed operators in this regard. For example, when bet365 published social media content featuring the boxers Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith, the authorities ruled in favour of bet365.
However, in the case of Joshua, the ASA judged that the athlete had a much higher profile than the boxers listed above, as well as a more extensive social media following among younger demographics.
In its defense, Betfred asserted that Joshua is fighting towards the end of his career and so his ‘star’ power has dropped, and that his brand deals with Armour, Beats By Dre and JD Sports that have universal appeal, not just to under-18s.
Looking at his social media following, the bookmaker cited that 0% of his Twitter/X, Facebook and TikTok followers are registered as between 13 and 17 and only 5% of his Snapchat and 6.6% of Instagram followers are minors.
Overall, the boxer has 29.3 million worldwide social media followers of which 1.1 million, or 3.85%, are under-18, and that his UK-specific social media presence can be narrowed down to 7.2 million followers of which it is believed ‘approximately 280,000’ were under-18.
Despite this, in its own assessment of his social media following, the ASA decided that 280,000 ‘was still a significant number in absolute terms’.
The authority also judged that although some commercial partners – fellow bookmaker Wiliam Hill and car manufacturer Land Rover, for example – were adult-oriented brands, others such as Under Armour, Beats By Dre and JD Sports could be seen as having more appeal to younger consumers.
Lastly, as mentioned above, the ASA maintained that Joshua’s status as a former two-time WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight World Champion meant that he would have a stronger appeal to under-18 audiences than other less known boxers.
Betfred was ordered to remove the tweets in question, and also ordered that the ads must ‘not appear again in their current form, having breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 16.1, 16.3 and 16.3.12 (Gambling).