The advertisement which featured in the Racing Post referred to the following:
“Money back as a free bet if your horse finishes 2nd in all races at Ascot today
And in all races at one meeting every day this month.
Paddy Power You’re welcome
Mobile/online/1800 721 821”
The footnote referred to the following:
“Excludes shop bets. Applies throughout August, to Win and Win Part of Each-way bets. Refund as a free bet, max €25 per customer, per race, valid for 7 days. Free bet stake not included in winnings. Wagers placed using free bets will not trigger another free bet. Does not apply to Tote bets. See paddypower.com for full T&'s”.
The complainant considered the large print used in the advertisement to be eye catching. He placed his bet in a bookmaker’s shop and on producing his docket to claim his free bet, when his horse finished second, he was informed that the offer had excluded shop bets. He said in reality this exclusion had been included in tiny print in the bottom left hand corner of the advertisement, but given the size of the main message contained within the advertisement, he had not been drawn to read it. He considered that such important information should have been given more prominence within the main copy of the advertisement as it had contradicted the main headline offer.
The advertisers said it had been made clear on the face of the advertisement that shops were excluded. They considered that this information had clarified the headline offer, not contradicted it. The text was clear and legible and the exclusion in relation to shops had been set out at the beginning of the qualifying text. They said this was standard practice across the industry and as the advertisement had appeared in the Racing Post the captive audience was one who would be familiar with the industry.
The advertisers said they had promoted a money back offer and the headline of the offer had consumed the majority of the face of the advertisement to make it clear that the money back was as a free bet, and they had also outlined the race attached to this offer. They considered this information to be the primary condition attached to their offer and as with all promotions, further terms and conditions that applied had been set out in the footer in black font on a white background, to ensure they were clear and legible. The advertisers said that while they regretted the fact that the complainant considered they had been misled, they did not consider that they had breached the requirements of the Code.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted that the advertisement had referred to “Mobile/Online/1800 721 821” and understood that the advertisers were inviting consumers to place their bets through these channels. They considered that the footnote was easily legible. However, it contained an important clarification but was not linked to the main headline by way of an asterisk. In the circumstances the Complaints Committee considered the advertisement had breached Section 2.23 of the Code and upheld the complaint.
The advertisement should not appear in the same form again. The Committee reminded advertisers that where footnotes are used, they should be linked by way of an asterisk to the main headline.