Postcode Lottery loses as ASA ‘knocks at the door’

postcode lotteryPeople’s Postcode Lottery, the charity-backed sweepstake with the Paul McCartney-penned “earworm” jingle, has been whacked by the ad watchdog over an “advertisement feature” in the Daily Mail that implied gambling can make financial worries disappear.

The ad in question first appeared in July, and at the top contained text in a red speech bubble that stated: “We had to postpone the wedding when Craig lost his job.” Underneath, text stated: “Couple’s wedding is back on after they scooped £62,500 on People’s Postcode Lottery,” and featured a photo of a smiling couple holding a cheque that showed the amount they had won.

Further text stated: “An NHS nurse and her fiancé, who had to put their plans to wed on hold when one of them was made redundant, are celebrating after winning People’s Postcode Lottery’s Millionaire Street prize.”

The ad stated the couple “had just paid the deposit for their big day when Craig heard that he was being made redundant. Now the pair are looking forward not only to their wedding next year but also to planning a honeymoon after winning £62,500 when their Nottinghamshire postcode was announced as the winner on Saturday”.

It then featured a quote from bride to be Angie, who said: “Craig was made redundant at the end of April. We’d booked our wedding and paid the deposit on the Monday, and by Friday he was out of a job. We had to put the wedding on hold because we didn’t know how long he’d be out of work. Awful thoughts go through your mind.”

A further paragraph stated: “Craig, who works in e-commerce and has just started a new job, said, ‘I think the coffees are going to be on me at work.’”

postcode lotteryHowever, not everyone was quite so chuffed at this story with a happy ending, with one Daily Mail reader rifling off a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, challenging whether the ad suggested that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.

In response to the ASA investigation, perhaps unsurprisingly, People’s Postcode Lottery said it did not believe the ad breached the Code because it did not suggest the winners had been struggling financially before winning the prize.

It insisted there was a degree of subjectivity as to how financial concerns would be interpreted, and that, on balance, it did not consider the fact that the couple had been able to resume their wedding plans would be interpreted as suggesting that participating in a lottery could be a solution to financial concerns.

Furthermore, People’s Postcode Lottery maintained the ad did not unduly play on people’s fears of financial pressures nor referred to salary or debts. Additionally, the organisation believed the ad did not suggest the couple’s motivation for playing the lottery was to relieve hardship or financial concerns, and that it made clear Angie was employed throughout Craig’s unemployment.

For its part, the Daily Mail said it was not aware of having received complaints about the ad. They said they did not believe the ad implied that participation in the lottery was a way to achieve financial security.

Even so, the ASA took a rather different view, saying that consumers would interpret the headline “Couple’s wedding is back on after they scooped £62,500 on People’s Postcode Lottery” as making a direct connection between winning the People’s Postcode Lottery and the couple being able to resume their wedding plans.

Furthermore, it considered that the text “We had to put the wedding on hold because we didn’t know how long he’d be out of work. Awful thoughts go through your mind” implied that the couple were stressed about the repercussions of not being able to pay for the wedding after Craig was made redundant.

The ASA ruling stated: “We considered that, along with the presentation of the couple as being stressed because they could no longer afford their wedding, had the effect of suggesting that winning the People’s Postcode Lottery was able to provide a solution to their financial concerns regarding the payment of their wedding.

“That was further emphasised because the couple continued to play the People’s Postcode Lottery after Craig had been made redundant. Because the ad suggested that participating in a lottery was a way to solve financial concerns, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.”

Banning the ad from appearing in that form again, the watchdog also warned People’s Postcode Lottery over future marketing activity.

Related stories
Ladbrokes whacked again as ASA monitoring tool strikes
‘Funny’ Valentine’s ad gets tongue-lashing from ASA
ASA pulls plug on baby-faced rapper rum promotion
‘Suicide’ ad for life insurance fintech shot down by ASA
ASA rips down ‘Get laid by the best’ plastic grass ad
‘Titillating’ and ‘insensitive’ Ukrainian dating ad dumped

Print Friendly