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ASA Regulator in the UK criticizes Arsenal FC Fan Token Ads

Problem Brief:

Two cryptocurrency-focused advertisements by the Premier League team Arsenal have been been banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) due to their misrepresentation of the nature of cryptocurrency investments. Both commercials promoted the exclusive $AFC fan token.

The country’s advertising watchdog reprimanded Arsenal FC, one of the top soccer clubs in the United Kingdom, for its “irresponsible” and “misleading” promotion of its fan token, which was unveiled on July 12 in collaboration with Socios.

Two advertisements, one on Facebook and the other on the club website, received criticism from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Main Story:

  • According to the Facebook post on August 12, fans who owned AFC tokens could vote the song the club would play if they won. On August 6, a website page with the tagline “Everything you need to know about the token” first appeared.
  • The ASA claims that both of them were irresponsible for trivializing cryptocurrency investment and failed to highlight the investment risk. The Facebook post was deceptive because it failed to mention that the fan tokens were digital assets that required cryptocurrencies to purchase.
  • Arsenal claimed that because the tokens were created for entertainment and to promote fan participation, they were different from cryptocurrencies, which are used as a form of payment.

Claims Against Arsenal:

  • At the time the adverts ran, it was not possible to exchange the tokens on the Socios app.
  • Moreover, the club disputed that the advertisements were for bitcoin investments.
  • The ASA has been concerned about increased advertising for cryptocurrency and other assets.
  • The regulator criticized advertisements earlier this month from companies like Coinbase and  eToro as well as a campaign from the Papa John’s pizza business.

Similar fan tokens for soccer teams like Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, and Manchester City were created by the company Socios. It was established in 2019 and now has over 40 fan tokens listed on its website, with more expected to come.

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