Sky Bet ad ban overturned after successful appeal

ASA U-turns on ruling that Jeff Stelling-fronted ad was irresponsible.

The Advertising Standards Authority has reversed its decision to ban a Sky Bet TV ad for being irresponsible after Sky Bet appealed to the watchdog's independent reviewer, Sir Hayden Phillips.

The ASA had ruled the spot was irresponsible because it implied that people with a good knowledge of sport were likely to be successful in gambling.

The independent reviewer, whose decisions are non-binding, recommended the ban be reversed. The ASA Council "was persuaded by the arguments put forward", according to a spokesman.

The ad promoted a service allowing customers to build their own bets and featured Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling, who asked "How big is your sports noggin?" and said: "Spark your sports brain."

Another line in the ad was "In sport, anything does happen." This, Sky Bet said, made it clear that there was no guarantee of outcome.

The ASA originally pronounced: "We considered that the ad gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler’s control over betting success by placing undue emphasis on the role of sports knowledge."

Its new ruling reads: "The ad focused on the features of the particular betting service being promoted and we did not consider that it irresponsibly exaggerated the role which sports knowledge played in achieving betting success. The phrase "in sport anything does happen" explicitly recognised the uncertain nature of sporting outcomes. We therefore concluded that the ad was not socially irresponsible and did not breach the Code."

Last year, the independent reviewer received 56 appeals, of which he rejected 42 and referred 14 to the ASA Council. 

Only two of those 14 referrals resulted in the ASA reversing bans; one was a Coco Pops TV ad and the other was a direct mail campaign for workplace pensions provider Smart Pension.

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