A couple of days ago, I wrote about the TAB’s latest ad campaign re-branding gambling as shopping and showcasing unsafe gambling practices. I also mentioned that I had lodged a formal complaint about the campaign with the Advertising Standards Bureau.
For those of you interested in such things, here is the full text of my complaint.
The ad displays two bearded men, holding green shopping bags, leaping in the air. The slogan reads “It’s Betting Season. Time To Go Shopping”. The green shopping bags are overflowing with what appears to be money but is, in fact, betting slips.
Reason 1. The characterisation of gambling as being equivalent to shopping. This normalises gambling, making it seem harmless and safe when in fact it is a restricted activity with the potential to cause serious problems (financial, mental, emotional, personal, domestic, legal).
Reason 2. The depiction of shopping bags stuffed full of betting slips. The impression is that they are bags of cash. Also, the volume of betting slips portrayed in the ad implies thousands of bets placed. This promotes irresponsible gambling practices, which is illegal.
Reason 3. Re-branding “betting” as “shopping” is deceptive and misleading.
I understand that the TAB have launched an entire campaign around the idea that gambling for men is akin to shopping for women (this has been discussed on several advertising industry forums). Not only is this a sexist assumption but it is inaccurate and dangerous. Gambling is not shopping; it involves no goods received , no receipts and no refunds. If (unlike shopping) you “buy” a bet that doesn’t work out, you can’t get your money back.
Gambling advertising is not allowed to misrepresent the services they offer or to promote unsafe gambling practices. This ad (and others in the) campaign do both.