Arsenal FC Reprimanded By UK Regulator For ‘Irresponsible’ Fan Token Ads That Failed To Highlight Risk

UK Advertising Watchdog Censures Coinbase, eToro, Papa John’s Over Misleading Crypto Ads

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the United Kingdom’s independent advertising regulator, has reprimanded Arsenal FC for promoting its fan token ($AFC) and said the advertisements must not appear again.

The ASA said today investigations into Arsenal’s fan token ads revealed they had breached UK’s advertising law. The ASA argued that the two ads, one on the club’s website and the other one a paid-for advert on social media platform Facebook, “trivialized” cryptocurrency investments and were “irresponsible” because they failed to highlight the underlying investment risk.

Arsenal’s Fan Token Ad

On August 6, Arsenal unveiled an advertising campaign for its fan token on its website claiming to elaborate everything users need to know about the token launched on July 12 in collaboration with Socios. Six days later, another ad appeared on Facebook which said fans who purchased the $AFC token would be given an opportunity to vote on which songs the leading UK soccer club would play in the case that it scores a victory.

The advert further indicated that the number of tokens owned by the supporters would determine the value of the vote. But the ASA said the ad was misleading as it did not clarify the fan tokens were basically crypto assets that needed to be purchased with another cryptocurrency. 

In response to the ASA ruling, Arsenal asserted that the tokens are very different from cryptocurrencies as they are only tailored for entertainment and to boost the participation of fans — and not for cryptocurrency investments.

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Moreover, Arsenal said the advert on its website page had a disclaimer regarding price volatility risks. “… dependent on supply and demand, and can therefore go up as well as down…should be aware that they could lose some or all of their money invested”, the website reads.

The football club also told BBC that it will be conducting an independent review of the ASA’s ruling to get more clarity regarding the current stance of the regulator.

The latest regulatory move by the ASA joins a slew of similar rulings issued this year as the advertising watchdog has been zealously sniffing out and censuring misleading ads involving crypto-centric firms. Case in point, crypto promotions from Coinbase, eToro, and Luno Money were banned earlier this month.