British Airways criticised for ad “glamourising gambling”

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo
British Airways

Members of the public, campaigners and a former top politician have criticised airliner British Airways for a recent television advert with a pro-gambling theme seen as irresponsible.

The Harmondsworth-based plane operator, the UK’s largest and also its flag-carrier, was reported to the ASA by anti-gambling campaigners and is expected to be investigated by a Parliamentary Group.

The spot sees a holidaying couple returning to the hotel having won big on a detour to the casino on their way back from the poolside. The voiceover says they had a little spare change and won a few dollars, but “the next thing we knew we’d won $493. Luckiest dip ever!”

All complaints are still being assessed by the ASA, so there has been no decision forthcoming as to whether it is officially against the rules.

But former Minister for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith expressed his public disgust at the advert, saying it was “Utterly appalling. What were they thinking?” He will pursue it with a cross-party group in order to directly raise concerns with BA.

According to the ASA, the advert has been formally complained about for "portraying [gambling] in a glamorous and frivolous way, and that it’s therefore irresponsible."

The ASA’s rules state directly that “communications must not portray, condone or encourage gambling behaviour that is socially irresponsible”, or link gambling to “recklessness.”