Health Lottery 'loser' advert banned by Advertising Standards Authority

Watchdog says the advert was irresponsible and likely to exploit vulnerable people, but lottery argues it was sufficiently 'light-hearted'

The Health Lottery advert
The Health Lottery advert

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that a television advert for the Health Lottery was irresponsible because it pressured people to play and exploited vulnerable people.

The advert, broadcast late last year to promote the lottery’s midweek draw, featured various people saying "I’m a loser". A couple are shown sitting outside a house and the man says: "We lost a brand new kitchen and a conservatory." A woman is shown sitting in front of a picture of a beach and says: "I lost a holiday to Barbados." A man says: "My Saturday numbers came up on a Wednesday."

The ASA received 15 complaints about the advert, 14 of which said it was irresponsible because it suggested peer pressure to participate in the lottery or disparaged abstention. Eight of the complaints said it was irresponsible because it exploited vulnerable people.

The ASA adjudication, published today, says the advert breached rules around social responsibility.

"Some of the characters appeared to be distressed or frustrated by their lack of participation in the Wednesday draw, while one shouted ‘loser’ directly at viewers," it says.

"We considered that the term ‘loser’ was a pejorative term and that, in the context of the ad, was likely to exploit the susceptibilities and credulity of vulnerable people by suggesting that if they did not participate in the draw they had somehow failed."

The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear again in its current form.

It also said the Health Lottery must ensure its future adverts do not "disparage abstention from participating in lottery draws" and do not exploit the "susceptibility and credulity of vulnerable people". 

In response to the ASA, the Health Lottery, which was launched by the media owner Richard Desmond in 2011 and is made up of 51 society lotteries operating under its brand, said that the purpose of the advert was to raise awareness that the Wednesday draw was a new product for which a new ticket purchase was required and not a "second-chance" draw.

The lottery said it did not believe it exploited or took advantage of vulnerable people.

Clearcast, which approves TV adverts, said the characters in the advert were portrayed as losers, but the treatment was "sufficiently comedic and light-hearted" not to be taken at face value and did not use peer pressure or disparage abstention.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Latest Jobs

Forthcoming Events

CHASE 2016

  • Tue 16 Feb 2016 - Wed 17 Feb 2016
  • Business Design Centre, London, N1 0QH

Fundraising Week 2016

  • Tue 19 Apr 2016 - Thu 21 Apr 2016
  • London, South Bank
RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners


Expert Hub

Insurance advice from Markel

In the media spotlight - How would your charity react to a major crisis?

In this article, Robin Swinbank, a crisis management specialist from communications consultancy The Counsel House, explains the skills a chief executive will need to call on in a crisis


Expert Hub

Fundraising advice from BT MyDonate

Five low cost tips for creating compelling video content that thrives

No matter what size your budget, there are some simple tips that can help keep costs down