When Anti-gambling Ad Actually Encourages Betting: Singapore World Cup Debacle

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Anti-gambling by the National Council on Problem Gambling of Singapore backfires after Germans beat Brazil.

While gambling regulators and agencies aiming to fight gambling addiction are certainly needed in today’s world, they really should do better jobs than the National Council on Problem Gambling of Singapore. The body which operates in full compliance with Singaporean gambling laws has overnight become a target of ridicule.

The anti-problem gambling council has been running television and outdoor posters advertising over the past month, timing them very well with the ongoing World Cup, and trying to prevent those who bet on sports in Singapore from excessive wagering.

Advertising not done right

Anti-gambling ad in Singapore becomes target of worldwide ridicule

• An ad by NCPG portrays a boy who’s sad that his father bet everything on Germany

• After the Germans beat Brazil in a spectacular fashion the ad has gone viral

Online sportsbooks in Singapore are very popular with World Cup punters

The reason that this particular anti-gambling campaign has been made fun of by Singapore World Cup punters, industry experts, and now the world, is quite simple. The ad features a young boy, who shares with his friend that his father took all the savings the young boy managed to collect and bet them on Germany becoming the World Cup champions.

“I hope Germany wins,” is what the boy is telling his friend when asked who he thinks would win the World Cup. “My dad bet all my savings on them.” Naturally, after Germany progressed to the finals with a 7-1 massacre of the hosts Brazil, the advertising seems “poor made” to say the least.

The advertising campaign was created by local ad agency Goodfellas, also a great choice for a legitimate company’s name. According to them the ad was designed to “deter gamblers from gambling irresponsibly during the World Cup.” But it is unclear why Germany was chosen to feature as the involved team, when at online sportsbooks in Singapore the European squad was one of the favorites to lift the trophy even before the World Cup started.

Reactions to the ad

Well, after the Germans humiliated Selecao with a record-breaking score of 7-1, the Singaporean punters, who are by the way one of the most football-mad bettors in the world, were quick to calculate that the ad-featured young boy’s father has perhaps made a very smart betting move backing the Europeans.

The advert quickly became a popular internet meme in Singapore and then crossed the borders into other countries. It is now one of the most talked about advertisements in a wide selection of internet circles and groups.

Even the Singapore’s Manpower Minister, Tan Chuan-Jin joined in of the ridiculing fun. During the semi-final in question, he wrote the following on his Facebook page: “Looks like the boy’s father who bet all his savings on Germany will be laughing all the way to the bank!”

After only 30 minutes of the semi-final, Germany were already leading 5-0, but the broadcasters on the Singaporean TV still ran the commercial again. By this time the ad was regarded as a fresh reminder how punters can become rich overnight with a clever bet, not the message the National Council on Problem Gambling of Singapore (NCPG) wanted to convey.

One other Facebook user, Sieg Delacroix, posted this: “This ad has given hope to all gamblers!” Other reactions included a witty comment from a popular blogger Lee Kin Mun: “Always trust your father.”

Some Singaporeans went as far as naming the NCPG as the football oracle, much like famous Paul the Octopus – who correctly predicted each Germany game at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and Spain’s ultimate success as well.

Comments from the officials

Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Teo Ser Luck, shared the following with the media after the semi-final: “Germany beat Brazil 7-1! Brazil need to find out what went wrong and I need to find the script-writer for the gambling control advertisement.”

Despite obvious wrong-doing, the NCPG spokesperson still tried to defend the advertisement. He says the ad is not really focusing on the eventual winner of the World Cup, but rather bad influence gambling can carry.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling the ad is supposed to be a “timely reminder to those who bet on soccer not to get carried away in the excitement and hype of the World Cup and let their gambling affect their loved ones.”

The spokesperson continued: “Selecting Germany injected a sense of realism in our messaging, since no one will bet on a potentially losing team. At the end of the day, win or lose, the dangers of problem gambling, and the potential anxiety and pain that loved ones go through remain unchanged.”

What’s next?

While we certainly understand the message and the way NCPG wanted to convey it, gambling when done right has never hurt anyone. And this particular ad debacle actually serves as a confirmation of this fact. Betting on sports done in moderation is fun and exciting, millions of punters all over the world can tell you that in a heartbeat.

As for the young boy in the ad, he still has to wait until Sunday when Germany is meeting Argentina to contest the title. The Germans are looking to win their fourth trophy, while should Argentina triumph it will be their third World Cup title. The final has another interesting record to break: in the history of World Cups no European team has ever won in South America.

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