The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has cleared 888 UK of targeting its online-poker site to underage gamblers via an affiliate’s marketing videos on YouTube. In a ruling released today, the ASA denied two claims that videos sponsored and designed by 888 and presented by popular vlogger and influencer Callum Airey violated the UK’s Advertising Codes regarding ads directed toward minors.
The two videos, both of which remain available on Airey’s “Calfreezy” YouTube page, are laden with advertising for 888 UK’s online-poker app. The first of the two videos was released in July, 2021. Originally titled the “$10,000 YouTuber Poker Challenge“, it features Airey and four of his friends — Chris, Will, Theo, and Lux — donning inexpensive costumes and playing a brief hold’em tourney at a table within London’s Aspers Casino.
The second video, titled “I Was Youtubers TAXI Driver For 24 Hours“, shows Airey toting online influencers to various destinations in London while engaging them in random conversation. The two videos run 25 and 20 minutes, respectively, and both are suffused not only with plenty of 888 advertising, but with the disclaimers required under UK law, such as knowing when to stop, and, above all else, having to be at least age 18 to play on the 888 UK site. The introductions of both videos were dedicated to multiple warnings of that nature.
YouTube viewer stats vindicate 888 UK and Calfreezy
Despite the plentiful disclaimers, at least two complaints were logged regarding both videos, prompting the ASA to take a look. In both instances, Aiyer was able to obtain viewer stats from YouTube showing that neither video came close to exceeding the 25% underage threshold, which the ASA places upon all adult-themed third-party advertising.
Aiyer’s two videos with the 888 poker themes were viewed by only 6% and 7.5% underaged visitors, respectively, easily staying below the 25% threshold. A related accusation that Aiyer’s “Calfreezy” channel was itself targeting underage viewers also went unsupported by the actual stats. Overall, only 8.6% of views across Aiyer’s entire YouTube channel were traced to underage visitors.
Aiyer also provided separate statistics from an Instagram account he also publishes. Even though Instagram itself skewed younger, the overall numbers showed his account appealed squarely to young adults rather than under-18 viewers. His overall viewership numbers on Instagram were made available with a gender-based split: 16.2% of all males viewing the Calfreezy Instagram account were underaged, as were 20.8% of the account’s female viewers.
The ASA also considered whether or not any specific content within the two videos was designed to target children, and again, the agency determined that no such links existed. The closest thing in either video that could interpreted in that manner was that one of the character costume themes Airey and his friends pulled from a hat was a “Ken doll” (from Ken and Barbie fame); other costumes included a king, a mobster, and so on. The ASA easily determined that the point of the Ken doll costume was to just be an “adult male dressing up as a classic toy – one associated with stereotypical good looks.” The ASA added, “This was not likely to appeal to under 18s.”
Featured image source: YouTube / Calfreezy