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ASA warns on misleading online lottery advert

Ambiguous Facebook advertising by the World Lottery Club resulted in operator Annexio having to answer to the UK Advertising Standards Authority this week regarding its advertising back in June this year.

The newsfeed appeared under the header “How about never working again or starting an empire! Spend it your own way; you’d be one of the UK’s wealthiest lottery winners.”

This was supplemented by an attention-getting colour strapline announcing “Breaking News”, together with an illustration of a man being interviewed by a presenter, with more copy announcing the UK's “biggest” lottery draw of GBP 349 million, with a link to an article promoting the site.

The advertisement triggered a public complaint that the material did not adequately explain that it was commercial in nature, and was therefore misleading.

The ASA adjudicating panel agreed, censuring Annexio and noting:

“The ad seen by the complainant featured an image of a man being interviewed by a reporter, with “BREAKING NEWS” imposed on it in a style reminiscent of that used by some TV news channels. There was no information stating that it was an ad. We considered that the post gave the impression that it would link to editorial content regarding a lottery draw.

“The Facebook post was not obviously identifiable as a marketing communication and did not make its commercial intent immediately clear.”

Responding to the ruling, Annexio said it had stopped using such marketing communications on Facebook, and believed that the post was taken out of context, because the company always labelled ads on Facebook as “sponsored”.

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