Mecca Bingo penalised by ASA for Baga Chipz Instagram post


Mecca Bingo has become the latest company to fall foul of the Advertising Standards Authority after two complaints, which were upheld, raised an issue with an Instagram post that featured Baga Chipz.

This displayed contrasting images of the celebrity drag queen, with one in plain, dark clothes and no make-up contrasted to its opposite that comprised a happy expression, champagne and glamorous appearance. 

A caption read “a good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow. Over 18s only. Ts&Cs apply. #letaplaymeccabingo #meccabingo #winning #bingo #winningfeeling #feelinggood #bagachipz”.

This brought a pair of complaints to the ASA’s attention, with it believed that the ad in question suggested that gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem. It was questioned whether the ad was irresponsible and breached the code.

In response, the Rank Group brand stressed that the purpose of the ad was to “convey that their services were fun and entertaining”, rather than suggest that gambling could improve personal qualities or enhance self-image or self-esteem.

The usage of a before and after metaphor was intended to be a reference to “a post bingo glow”, with the word “transform” included as a nod to the drag entertainment industry and Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK, where Baga Chipz, who Mecca noted that it “regularly works with”, rose to fame.

Mecca affirmed a belief that the contrasting images would be perceived as highly exaggerated, with any reference to winning at bingo having been deliberately omitted.

“They said the reference to having a ‘good game’ was intended to refer to the positive experience and atmosphere of Mecca Bingo venues and the benefits brought by the social interaction people had when attending,” the ASA noted on Mecca’s response to the matter. 

“They said there was nothing in the ad which suggested winning at bingo would give someone a sense of positive recognition, admiration or superiority.

“They acknowledged that the ad could have been misinterpreted if viewed without understanding it in its full context. 

“They said they recognised the importance and requirements of the CAP code and would ensure that future marketing, including social media posts, conveyed their messaging more clearly. They confirmed they had permanently removed the post.”

Upholding the complaints, the ASA noted that the contrasted images presented an individual that possessed “a higher level of confidence and an enhanced self-image in comparison”. In addition, the accompanying text was also judged to have implied a higher self-image could be attained by playing bingo.

“We also considered that the caption on the post, ‘A good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow’ and the hashtags, ‘winning’, “‘winningfeeling’ and ‘feelingood’ created an impression that an individual could improve their self-esteem, as well as their self-image, by not just playing bingo related games, but also by winning them,” the ASA said of its judgement.

“We acknowledged that the ad featured well-known drag queen Baga Chipz and that the two images, combined with a reference to being transformed, would have been interpreted by some viewers to be a reference about drag queens. 

“We still considered the overall impression of the ad, particularly through the contrasting images, suggested gambling could improve an individual’s self-image or self-esteem.”

It was concluded that the ad suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem, which was deemed irresponsible by the ASA.

Mecca Bingo were told that the ad must not appear again in the form complained of, and reminded to ensure their future marketing communications contained nothing that suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem.