The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against Arsenal football club for misleading online ads enticing fans to purchase crypto fan tokens as part of a Socios collaboration. Despite Arsenal’s objections, the ASA found the ad breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code and has ordered Arsenal to take down the ads.
This is a second ruling after Arsenal appealed an earlier decision made in December. The ASA affirmed its decision regarding the Facebook and website ads, deeming them “irresponsible” and “misleading”.
Arsenal published two ads, one promoting paid fan tokens and another for a free token giveaway. The paid one carried a warning that prices could go up and down, but the giveaway did not. In the eyes of the ASA, both ads promoted free and paid-for tokens.
The ASA insisted the ads didn’t make it clear that the tokens were cryptoassets, and one of the promotions failed to include warnings on the associated investment risks. Even the ad containing the risk warning didn’t feature the notice sufficiently prominently. It needed to highlight that crypto-assets are not regulated in the UK and hence lack the protections available to other investments.
It also ruled the Facebook ads as misleading for not including information that paid-for Fan Tokens had to be bought with $CHZ cryptocurrency. The regulator took issue with how the Facebook and website ads trivialized investment in crypto assets, asserting that Arsenal “took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity”. They were concerned that accepting the free token required users to set up a Socios account, which exposed them to buying and selling cryptoassets, which it deems ‘a complex and sophisticated investment’.
Since the original December ruling, Arsenal’s Fan Tokens have nearly halved in value.
Arsenal has been active in the blockchain space for some time. Other than its fan token deal with Socios, it has a licensing agreement with Fantastec to mint Arsenal digital collectibles. The Arsenal NFTs are stored on the public Flow blockchain, also home to Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot NFTs. Arsenal also has NFT collectibles available as part of Sorare’s fantasy football game.