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Sky Bet’s Gary Neville Tweet Draws Scrutiny from ASA

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled against a Sky Bet advertisement featuring former footballer Gary Neville, stating that the ad might attract individuals under 18.

The ad, which was promoted in the form of a tweet on X, formerly known as Twitter, featured an embedded video clip from The Overlap football podcast. In the video, Neville discussed potential Premier League winners while the Sky Bet logo was occasionally displayed.

The ad concluded with the text, "Brought to you by Sky Bet," followed by the GambleAware logo. The tweet also featured the text, "Is Gary changing his title prediction? Thanks to Man City, It seems @GNev2 is having a change of heart. Part three of The Overlap Fan Debate is out now."

Sky Bet’s Response

However, Sky Bet defended the tweet, asserting that Neville did not hold a strong appeal to under-18s. The operator clarified that the Overlap podcast focuses on discussions about football with figures from sports, politics, and business and does not contain content designed to appeal to children. It also stated that only 1.2% of the podcast's audience falls within the 13 to 17 age range, and for the episode featuring Neville, this percentage decreased to 0.5%.

Sky Bet further said that Gary Neville aligns with CAP guidance's definition of being long-retired, which diminishes his appeal to individuals under 18. It emphasized that Neville is primarily recognized as a football pundit, political commentator, and businessman and has a media profile consistent with his "mature age."

Lastly, the operator pointed out that Neville has been a brand ambassador for Sky Bet since 2018 and is associated with their products. Additionally, X stated that it had not received any complaints regarding the advertisement.

ASA Upholds Ruling

Nevertheless, ASA maintained its objection to the tweet. The body acknowledged that the advertisement was aimed at individuals over the age of 25; however, since it was posted on a platform where users self-verify their age, the exclusion of under-18s could not be guaranteed.

Furthermore, the ASA cited the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code), which categorizes retired footballers moving into punditry as having a "moderate risk" of strongly appealing to under-18s.

ASA looked into Neville's social media profiles and found 80,000 followers under 18 on Instagram and 55,000 under 18 followers on X, totaling 135,000 under-18 followers. The Authority couldn't get figures for Neville's under-18 followers on TikTok and Facebook.

Although they made up a small proportion of his total Instagram and Twitter/X followers, we considered that over 135,000 followers aged under 18 was a significant number in absolute terms. We therefore considered that because he had such large numbers of social media followers that were under 18, he was of inherent strong appeal to under-18s.

StatementAdvertising Standards Authority

Advertisements that are determined to directly target individuals under the age of 18 violate the ASA's CAP Code guidelines, particularly rules 16.1, 16.3, and 16.3.12. The CAP Code serves as the regulatory framework for marketing and advertising in the United Kingdom.

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