ASA pulls plug on Instant Kiwi tabletop ads

It’s game over for Instant Kiwi’s tabletop advertising of its Space Invader scratchies in food courts. The Advertising Standards Authority’s Complaints Board has ruled it in breach of its Codes of Practice for promoting a gambling product in a way that’s appealing to minors.

The print ads in question feature imagery from arcade classic Space Invaders and appeared on top of tables at a Hamilton food court. It’s also been seen in other food courts in New Zealand. The complainant says the location of the ads at a food hall frequented by children and families is inappropriate and risks normalising gambling.

The Complaints Board upheld this latest complaint, saying NZ Lotteries’ ad breached its Code for Advertising Gaming and Gambling, which includes the following principles:

Principle 2 – Advertisements should observe a high standard of social responsibility.

Guideline 2(a) – Advertisements should not be directed at minors, have strong or evident appeal to minors, nor portray minors participating in activities in which they are under the legal age. Minors may appear in situations in which they would be naturally found (e.g. a family meal), provided there is no direct or implied suggestions that they will participate in the gaming.

New Zealand Lotteries (which owns Instant Kiwi) argues that Space Invaders has long phased out of the cultural zeitgeist and isn’t aimed at today’s Angry Birds-flinging Modern Warfare-waging youth. The company’s intention was to appeal to older gamers through nostalgia, adding that people under 18 aren’t able to buy Instant Kiwi tickets. Instant Kiwi’s agency DDB chimes in to say the tabletops were picked as a channel because it resembles the retro arcade machines Space Invaders was played on in its heyday. 

The Complaints Board disagrees with NZ Lotteries and DDB, saying the use of words such as “Blast ’em now” holds strong appeal to minors. It cites a previous decision involving a Monopoly-themed scratchy which found in favour of NZ Lotteries. In that case, NZ Lotteries clearly showed it was targeting adults through nostalgia by reminiscing about their “past Monopoly playing days”.

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