UK advertising watchdog bans Ladbrokes tweet featuring boxer Jake Paul, deeming it “irresponsible”

A tweet by online sports betting platform Ladbrokes has been banned and deemed irresponsible by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ad, which was shared on the operator’s official Twitter account, dates back to February and featured the image of boxer and YouTube star Jake Paul, a popular influencer among teenagers.

The tweet had the caption: “@TommyTNTFury beat @JakePaul by split decision last night. So, we’ve got to ask the question… What’s next for Jake Paul? Vote here now.” The post featured a poll asking the readers what they thought would be next for the boxer. The options included: “Win the re-match”, “Head to the MMA”, “Return to YouTube” and “Join the WWE”.

After an investigation, the watchdog deemed that the tweet breached the rules for including Jake Paul, who is famous among a large audience under the age of 18. Paul has nearly 20 million subscribers on YouTube, most of whom are teenagers. 

Ladbrokes responded to ASA noting that the social media post was published after a fight between Paul and boxer Tommy Fury. The bookmaker further noted that there were no “calls to action” in the post, such as promotional offers or links back to its site.

The company also said that its Twitter feed and respective tweets were age-gated, and therefore could not be accessed by users unless the social media platform accepted their age as being 18. 

Ladbrokes further argued that the details of his follower demographics suggested that only 16% of Paul’s YouTube subscribers were registered as being between 13 and 17 years old. It also noted that when it specifically came to Paul’s Twitter followers, 0% were registered as being under 18. 

However, the ASA pointed out that Paul is primarily known for making YouTube videos, and that he is considered to have a “strong appeal” for those under the age of 18. The watchdog noted he has 65 million followers combined across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter, with around 3 million users registered as under 18 on each of the YouTube, TikTok and Instagram platforms.

The ASA asserted Paul’s likelihood to have followers under the age of 18 when the ad appeared, as he was a part of a children’s TV programme titled Bizaardvark from 2016 to 2018, which contributes in making him of “inherent strong appeal to under-18s.”

The ASA said: “Whilst the programme had ended in 2019 in the US, we considered that he was still well known for having appeared on that programme and that it was still available on UK streaming services. We, therefore, considered that Jake Paul had strong appeal to under-18s. For those reasons, we considered that the ad was irresponsible and breached the code.”

The ASA mandated the post must not appear again, as it was “irresponsible” and breached the UK’s advertising Code. It also forbade the company from including people who have a strong presence with people under 18.