An advert for bookmaker Ladbrokes featuring Marvel superhero Iron Man has been banned over fears it would appeal to children. 

The email, which featured an image from the film Iron Man 3, breached rules which say gambling ads must not be likely to appeal to children, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.

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

Most Iron Man fans are adults, it said.

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

It also argued its advert was “adult-themed” and reflected popular culture.

However, the ASA upheld the complaint against the 4 May email, saying that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

The ASA said it understood that the email was only sent to people aged 18 and over, but nevertheless, the restrictions still applied.

It said that as all Facebook users must declare themselves to be at least 13 years old, younger children were therefore excluded from the sample used by Ladbrokes to support its stance.

The ASA said:

“We considered those younger children were likely to be the primary audience for Iron Man action figures and related merchandise, which we understood were widely available at toy retailers.

“We understood that Iron Man was a popular character that would appeal to many adults but considered its comic book nature, and the availability of various related toys, meant it was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people.

“We therefore concluded that the ad breached the code.”

A Ladbrokes spokesman said:

“We are aware of the ASA ruling and are now considering our options, including the possibility of requesting an independent review which is part of the ASA appeals process.”

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) Gambling rules.

The ad must not appear again in its current form, and Ladbrokes Betting & Gaming Ltd are not use images that were likely to be of particular appeal to children or young people in future gambling ads.

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