When the fun stops, stop slogan proved to be ineffective

Dec 24, 2020

4 min to read

“When the FUN stops, stop” is a responsible gambling campaign, launched by the UK’s biggest betting brands - Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power.

The operators committed to using responsible gambling messages across their marketing, including TV and online ads.

When the fun stops

The campaign started in 2015, so by 2020 it has already been valid for 5 years and some relevant statistical studies of its effectiveness. One of these was an experiment held by academics at the University of Warwick in 2019.

Surprising findings were published - warnings about the dangers of gambling do not affect the behavior of players in any way and do not reduce the number of bets made by players.

There were 506 Premier League soccer fans, who took part in the experiment. The participants were given a sequence of nine £0.10 bonuses, and were asked to gamble these.

The results were unexpected and paradoxical. When a warning label was shown, participants decided to bet on 41.3% of trials, compared to 37.8% when no warning label was shown.

Although the difference between the 2 figures isn’t statistically significant, it's obvious that the “when the FUN stops, stop” gambling warning label did not achieve the purpose of promoting more responsible gambling behavior.

People’s behavior is difficult to predict, and research methods can also be flawed. We decided to guess why the players might not have responded to the slogan - and share these possible reasons with you.

The word “FUN” was written in uppercase letters

People often do not read information written in small print or when something more interesting grabs their attention. In the slogan, the word “FUN” stands out from the rest of the words.

So for someone who was wholly involved in making the bet, the meaning of the whole phrase could simply go unnoticed.

The statistical sample was low

As mentioned above, only 506 players took part in the experiment. According to the 2018 UK Gambling Commission report, there were 36.6 million online (remote) gambling customer accounts.

Recent statistics shows that 47% of Brits have gambled in some way in the last 4 weeks. A half-thousand group may not be fully representative, accordingly.

Players were asked to make soccer bets solely

The research didn’t take into account other popular gambling activities, such as the National Lottery with as many as 30% of Brits regularly taking part in it.

Sports betting ranks fourth in popularity, yielding to other lotteries and scratchcards. In terms of popularity, betting is similar to bingo games, although it surpasses them for a little.

Perhaps, investigating a player’s behavior on some of these examples as well would have changed the result.

The amount of bet and money received for free

The more you bet, the more you risk and the more nervous you will be, right? Even more so if you bet your own earned money and not the money that you got for free.

Facing the emotional stress, a person perceives external incentives, such as ads or messages, differently. Perhaps, if the players were given a large amount (recall, they received £0.10 at a time) or - offered to pay their own money while increasing the rates to an uncomfortable amount - this could change the result.

Anyway, in advertising, you never know what will work and what will not. The more experiments are carried out, the topic will get the best results in the end.

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