UK advertising authority cautions Mecca Bingo over Instagram ad

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has raised concerns and issued a formal warning to Mecca Bingo regarding an Instagram post that was found to breach the advertising code.

The post featured two contrasting images of celebrity drag queen Baga Chipz, displaying a stark difference between the celebrity’s appearance before and after playing Mecca Bingo. 

The first image portrayed the celebrity in plain attire with a neutral expression, while the subsequent image depicted them in glamorous clothing, makeup, and a jubilant demeanor, accompanied by the caption “Before playing Mecca Bingo vs after playing Mecca Bingo.”

A complaint lodged with the ASA alleged that the post insinuated gambling could bolster an individual’s self-esteem and self-image, deeming it an irresponsible marketing tactic for gambling services. 

In response to the complaint, Mecca Bingo clarified that the objective of the ad was to convey the entertaining and enjoyable nature of their services

They explained that the use of the “before and after” imagery aimed to symbolize the positive feeling one might experience after a night at Mecca Bingo. Additionally, the company highlighted its collaboration with the drag queen, stating that the ad referenced the transformative nature commonly associated with drag entertainment.

However, despite Mecca Bingo’s clarification, the ASA ruled that the advertisement breached the advertising code by suggesting that playing bingo could enhance an individual’s self-image. The authority noted the stark contrast in the presentation of the images and the associated text, which implied an uplift in self-image post-playing bingo.

While Mecca Bingo emphasized that the ad did not intend to promote the idea that winning at bingo would generate a sense of positive recognition or superiority, the ASA maintained its position that the post implied gambling could positively impact self-image or self-esteem, resulting in a violation of the advertising code.

Consequently, the ASA issued a warning to Mecca Bingo regarding its future marketing endeavors and ordered the removal of the ad in question. The authority urged Mecca Bingo to ensure that their future advertising materials refrain from insinuating that gambling could enhance an individual’s self-image or self-esteem, in accordance with the advertising code.