The British national carrier’s marketing department, as well as the entire company, hit a bad patch of turbulence with one of their television commercials. In the video ad, a couple is shown winning on slot machines in an easy and carefree manner. For some, the depiction of gambling immediately became outrageous, which led to a range of complaints about the UK advertising regulations.
Among those who expressed their negative stance on the advertisement were campaigners and MPs alike. The ad was made from the British Airways Holidays, which shows a couple coming back to their room through a hotel-casino, after having a dip in the facility’s swimming pool. The “dip” pun is then produced when the couple state that they put their change in a slot machine, winning a couple of dollars, which they put back and got – precisely – a sum of $493.
The couple then goes to characterize this as the “luckiest dip ever”. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith stated he was stunned by the “utterly appalling” ad and that he would be discussing it in a cross-party manner. This implies that some form of direct legal or regulatory action might be coming towards British Airways.
Particularly Bad Timing
The UK has been in a prolonged discussion about the role of gambling in its society and how its negative impacts could be mitigated. The restriction of the maximum bet on the fixed-odds betting terminals or FOBTs is the best example. All of this means that the climate for the ad like this has already been not overly friendly, but what adds insult to injury is the commercial’s timing. It aired only a few weeks after the gambling companies in the UK agreed to limit their TV commercials.
The limits include especially addicts, vulnerable people, and children as groups that these ads otherwise might target. The company tried to push back against allegations, stating that the ad or a version of it has been in the broadcast for more than three years and that it was fully cleared with all relevant agencies for its broadcast. However, while British Airways seems to be legally safe, the public pressure will likely make the company reconsider the use of this particular advertisement.
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