Belfast Telegraph

Bookmaker advert featuring Iron Man cleared by watchdog

An ad for bookmaker Ladbrokes featuring the popular superhero Iron Man has been cleared in a reversal of a decision that banned it over fears it would appeal to children.

The May 2016 email promoting the Ladbrokes casino featured an image of Iron Man and the text: "Enjoy this exclusive Ladbrokes welcome offer with Iron Man 3."

Ladbrokes said all its email offers were sent to registered customers or those known to be over 18.

It said the image was "adult-themed" and reflected popular culture, adding that evidence indicated that followers of Marvel comics and superheroes were predominantly adults.

The bookmaker argued that this was supported by data on attendance at Comic Con events and Facebook demographics for the Marvel brand.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) initially banned the ad in August, noting that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

In an updated ruling, the ASA said it still considered the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people, but noted that it was sent by email only to registered customers and others who had been validated as being over 18 years of age.

It said: "Although the ad was likely to have particular appeal to children and young persons, we concluded that because the ad would not be seen by them, it was not irresponsible."

A Ladbrokes spokesman said: " We are pleased with the decision."