A Cautionary Tale For Marketers

Be sensitive to youth and gambling concerns

Several English Premier League football clubs found themselves unexpectedly (and negatively) under the Sunday Times spotlight this week in an issue around youth and gambling that could have been avoided with more sensitivity to a public environment in which youthful gambling has become a major issue.

The UK Gambling Commission, anti-gambling groups and the British mainstream media have become increasingly vociferous in recent months on the dangers of “luring” the young into gambling, condemning those that are allegedly complicit in this threat, including operator marketers, game designers, PR firms, general advertisers…and now, apparently, sponsored football clubs.

It all started innocently enough with marketers at online gambling-sponsored clubs like Newcastle United, Stoke City, Swansea City and West Ham United posting images of junior team players wearing the strip or sporting the logos of sponsors.

But it triggered a Sunday Mail scrutiny and a negative interpretation of the images as promoting gambling to the young; the clubs were sufficiently concerned at the fall-out to remove the images, claiming that they had been posted unintentionally and in error.

The warnings have been clear, and marketers as well as promoters and game designers need to be aware of the increased scrutiny by critical eyes on virtually everything they conceive.