U.K. Advertising Watchdog Calls Arsenal FC's Crypto Token Ad Irresponsible

ASA Bans Arsenal’s Fan Token Promotion

Arsenal promoted its fan token $AFC both on Facebook and the club’s official website. The football club earlier partnered with Socios to launch their fan tokens and give fans the opportunity to get involved in and influence club decisions.

However, ASA noted that the content of Arsenal’s Facebook post and website were seen by the general public, including those who neither had the experience nor financial knowledge of cryptocurrency. According to the advertising regulator, while the Facebook post did not give any warning that crypto assets are volatile and were unregulated in the UK, the website content which stated such a warning was not prominent enough.

In addition, the website promotion of the fan token did not also indicate that digital assets were not regulated by the UK financial regulator. The ASA further said that both advertisements did not provide robust information about the fan token. The advertising watchdog gave its verdict, stating that the ads were misleading.

ASA warned the club, stating:

“The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Arsenal Football Club PLC to ensure that their future ads did not trivialise investment in cryptoassets and did not irresponsibly take advantage of consumers’ lack of experience or credulity by not making clear that CGT could be due on cryptoasset profits.”

The regulator also added it already told the club to include important information when making such ads, in order not to mislead consumers. Furthermore, ASA said that in the future, the club should be clear about the unregulated nature of cryptos and also explicitly state that investment in such digital assets was volatile.

Arsenal to Review ASA Ruling on Crypto Token Ad

However, Arsenal in response to the ASA’s query, said that it included risk warnings on its website, adding that the fan tokens were not promoted as cryptocurrency investments. Meanwhile, the football club said that it would seek an independent review regarding ASA’s ruling.

A spokesperson for Arsenal told the BBC:

“We take our responsibilities with regard to marketing to our fans very seriously. We carefully considered the communications to fans regarding our promotions and provided information regarding financial risks.”

The latest development is part of ASA’s efforts to clampdown on crypto ads that it deems misleading and irresponsible. Earlier in 2021, the advertising regulator banned a Bitcoin ad by crypto exchange Coinfloor, which supposedly targeted retirees and was misleading.

Another cryptocurrency exchange platform Luno also attracted regulatory scrutiny from ASA for its crypto promotion, which said “if you’re seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it’s time to buy.” The U.K. advertising regulator also made a similar ruling against Luno.

In October, Floki Inu, a meme ‘coin’ named after Elon Musk’s Shiba Inu dog, carried out an aggressive campaign on London’s transport network. However, the advert caused controversy, with Sian Berry, a member of the London Assembly and a former co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, calling for such ads to be banned from the city’s transport network.

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