Thursday, September 29, 2022

Advertising watchdog upholds complaint against Arsenal for Socios promo

Arsenal have been given a second warning by the Advertising Standards Authority after marketing materials about partner Socios, who sell unregulated non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the guise of a fan engagement platform, were again deemed ‘misleading’.

Originally reprimanded in December, the Gunners lodged an appeal only for the ASA to uphold the original complaint, albeit on revised grounds.

Arsenal’s relationship with Socios started in July 2021 and it immediately drew the ire of the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust who were concerned the club weren’t being upfront about its partner’s products being an unregulated cryptocurrency.

In November, there followed a big email marketing campaign to get supporters to claim a “free $AFC Fan Token” giving people “voting rights on official club decisions, the opportunity to earn VIP real-life experiences, and unrivalled access to digital club-related events”.

It was materials relating to this promotion, posted on Facebook and the club’s website, that garnered the attention of the ASA.

Their original rebuke was fulsome:

1. ads (a) and (b) were misleading because they failed to illustrate the risk of the investment;

2. ad (a) was misleading because it did not make clear that the tokens were cryptoassets, which could only be obtained by opening a cryptoassets exchange account, and in the case of paid-for fan tokens, required the purchase of another cryptocurrency; and

3. ads (a) and (b) were irresponsible because they took advantage of consumers’ inexperience or credulity and trivialised engaging with and investing in cryptoassets.

The ASA yesterday explained in lengthy detail why they feel they were right to call out the club for its promotion of Socios. You can read the full ruling here.

And this is the action they’ve told Arsenal to take:

“The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Arsenal Football Club plc to ensure that they made sufficiently clear that the value of investments in paid-for Fan Tokens was variable and as cryptoassets they were unregulated. We also told them to ensure that they did not mislead consumers by omitting material information in their ads, including that free fan tokens would require a consumer to open up a cryptoassets exchange account and that paid-for Fan Tokens were a cryptoasset that had to be bought using another cryptocurrency. We told them to ensure that their future ads did not trivialise investment in cryptoassets by omitting appropriate and prominent risk warnings and did not irresponsibly take advantage of consumers’ lack of experience or credulity by not making clear that CGT could be due on cryptoasset profits.”

Despite a huge crash in the crypto market this year – one that has earned plenty of headlines and ruined many lives – Arsenal continues to actively promote Socios, albeit with lengthier disclaimers in place. What you get in return on the ‘fan engagement’ front is genuinely pitiful; most recently a chance to vote on last season’s best piece of skill by an Arsenal player.

Socios and other crypto products have become ubiquitous across European football of late, but there are those – such as @uglygame on Twitter – who consistently raise issues that should concern their partner clubs.

As Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, also says:

“This ruling is another stark reminder that people should resist ploughing money into schemes they don’t fully understand and should only speculate with money they can afford to lose. It also highlights the need to speed up the plan to give the city watchdog – the Financial Conduct Authority more powers to regulate the crypto industry, given the government’s vision to make the UK a crypto hub.”

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C.B.

NFTs, owning things that don’t exist other than online, are very dodgy as are cryptocurrencies, not backed by goverments/regulators.

Maybe things will get better but not holding my breath…best avoided.

Merlin’s Panini

Because the regulators are doing such a great job with our money at the moment…

Merlin’s Panini

I’m not supporting crypto etc but I don’t trust the regulators either.

Robm

Better than the crypto pyramid scheme owners.

https://web3isgoinggreat.com/

Daveo

owning things that don’t exist other than online” sounds like a bank…

Fireman Sam

With a bank at least you have redress if something goes wrong. Try complaining if you have a crypto problem…

Daveo

Oh you mean like if the banks collapse and they seize all assets and stop people removing funds and then get jacked up by tax payers. Oh wait, that’s the banks redress… (FYI, I have nothing in the crypto game, but if you’re silly enough to get involved it’s your own fault. However, it’s also just ironic complaining about how evil they are when the financial institutions have been crippling our societies and maintaining classism for centuries; kind of like the whole gamestop thing – banks hate cryptos because it threatens their stranglehold on society’s money – a lot of… Read more »

Arsene's Zip

We’re still advertising a genocidal regime on the shirt sleeve, so ain’t getting any better this season.

A Different George

“The government’s vision to make the UK a crypto hub.”

I wish the ASA had the power to make the government tell the truth too.

T.A.

Good for ASA and shame on the Kroenkes for pushing this scam. This is not only misleading and thus potentially very harmful to fans, but it may also tarnish the club’s good name. I hope they fix it.

Qwaliteee

Spot on.

Daveo

All hail the Bank of England…
Better the devil you know eh?
Too big to fail.

EDgooner4ever

Disgraceful

Qwaliteee

It is.

Kenna

Lots of positive work done by the club on and off the pitch to get the fanbase back on side. This feels completely at odds with that.

Gus Caesar

I can’t help but think that the carelessness of this whole Socios debacle that the club have got themselves into coincides with the time straight after they sacked many of their best staff. The same goes for the recent shambles around ticketing (the Bournemouth away allocation and reducing access to tickets for silver members whilst also increasing the annual membership fee). There has been a brain drain amongst the talented people that would once caution the club against such decisions. Sadly, I worry that calamities of these types are going to increasingly beset our experience of our club.

Qwaliteee

I would fully expect Chelsea or the scum bags up the road to get messed up in this sort of shameless trash, but not us.

Really saddened – and downright fucking angry – that we’re associated in any way with it.

Sort it out, Arsenal. The Hill-Woods, not to mention Herbert Chapman, would be turning in their graves.

Partey in the back

caveat emptor. Personally, I’ve avoided any crypto investments. But if it gives the fan some joy to throw some of their money that way so be it. Putting hopes and dreams into it, well that might be a mistake.

onenil

Times are hard enough for most people without the club we support trying to rip us off, and you know its always the most vulnerable who get rinsed.
‘Buyer beware’ doesn’t cut it, it lets the club off for running a scam.

BillyKrystal

This shit is poison. NFT’s are the new snake oil. Crypto is too volatile for regular investors. Extremely disappointing the club is pushing this trash. Although, like some other clubs, they may not have a full understanding of what Socios is. If so, that’s even worse, ignorance isn’t an excuse.

TeeCee

NFTs are very like snake oil, but there aren’t any actual snakes. Or oil.
But apart from that…

BillyKrystal

Maybe it’s only said in the US, but snake oil is just saying it’s a fraudulent service. Snake oil salesmen would go around the Old West and con people into buying their “miracle” snake oil. You may not understand the reference, but it’s most certainly apt…

TeeCee

Well aware of that and the original “Genuine Indian Snake Oil” that used to be touted as the perfect oil for just about anything.

The point I was making, which seems to have passed you by, was that even that cheesy old con gave you a bottle of something oily. It may even have been made from snakes in some cases, who knows?

NFTs take the cheese to a new level by not even obliging the fraudsters to have anything to sell, as they can just snap their fingers to make more virtual nothing.

Merlin’s Panini

I do think there are a lot of shit NFTs, however those who flatly dismiss them out of hand often don’t understand them. They can be linked to actual objects, services etc. For example, in theory season tickets or club memberships could end up being sold as NFTs, with bonus items, merchandise, events and other rewards etc airdropped to fans who hold them. I would not be at all surprised if that were the case in the near future. NFTs have a bad name because, like anything new, the world isn’t fully wise to them yet. A lot of people… Read more »

BillyKrystal

I’m not knowledgeable enough about NFT/crypto, maybe I am only hearing about the scam type stuff. I understand some of the argument for decentralized currency, but as it stands crypto mining is a massive energy sink and requires an inordinate amount of resources. That alone is enough to make me wary. Add in the opaque nature of these markets, the abundance of scams, and misleading advertising, and you have a a toxic soup. Socios in particular is incredibly misleading, corralling people into investing in their proprietary crypto under the guise of a higher level of fandom. If NFTs are tied… Read more »

onenil

Socios as in Sociopaths

Beef

Even if you think that NFTs and crypto arent bad per se, this is just dodgy AF. We’re on a par with those clubs sponsored by payday lenders and gambling firms.
Sadly this isn’t the most shameful arsenal related story I can think of.

Arsesplat

Visit Rwanda

Qwaliteee

It might as well read Visit Russia.

Fucking sleeve sponsorships. There’s got to be better ways of increasing revenue than whoring out every inch of club shirt space.

ClockEnder

Regardless of how you view this tech, Arsenal just don’t need to be getting involved in any of this.

Hope we make the right choice and get shot as soon as we contractually allowed.

Graeb

Agreed. I can just it all coming now – “were you mis-sold an NFT by your club? If so, join in the claim for £millions”.
I’m sure there’s a good percentage of AFC fans who do have the requisite knowledge but those who need added freebies offered are not they.

Jasonissimo

Glad the ATA stood by its ruling on appeal (was there any doubt) as crypto markets are chockablock with chancers and charlatans trying to make a quick profit off the naïve.

However, AAllen was misleading in tweeting “Arsenal in trouble AGAIN with [the ATA]” since it seems this is not a new complaint but the ruling after Arsenal appealed—a continuation of the process rather than a new issue.

Jasonissimo

*ASA

Jim

David Squires said it best: https://www.theguardian.com/football/ng-interactive/2022/feb/22/david-squires-on-cryptocurrency-and-the-football-metaverse. We are the plankton. It’s a disgrace that Arsenal got involved with this scheme.

Anders Limpar

Not, The Arsenal Way….

The Kroenke Way.

Paul Miller

I received an email at 11:50 p.m. for some crappy coffee that arsenal promotes ,it won’t me up ,I had to be at work at 3:30 the next day. I turned in my membership and as far as I’m concerned I will. Only watching on illegal streams, they see the fans as a cashpoint .I’m sick and tired of the commercialism of this club, I know it goes on in all the other clubs at this level but there was a time when you could afford to go to a game ,there was a time where you could get a… Read more »

Cangooner

Good! The club’s association with this sham has been a disgrace from the outset.

mr.weebey

Weird how the same hand wringing isn’t applied to the endless forex and betting exchanges exchange adverts. Your opinion completely ignores the fact that joe public got waxed on Netflix and other growth stocks this year as well. Don’t be an idiot and lose your life savings on a fan token. There I fixed the whole issue.

arseblog

I guess the difference is they are established and regulated.

Kris

The regulation point won’t be relevant to the ASA though – purely whether the advertising itself demonstrates that your capital is at risk. Forex trading advertising generally does a decent job at this (helped by the fact it is established) something like this or the sad case of the football index (which was technically regulated by the gambling commission) evidently advertise the risk poorly.

Mayor McCheese

NFT’s, safe standing, a Xhaka piece…a week in news purgatory!

Where’s my transfer tittle tattle?! My poo-o-meter?! My youth?!

Francis Jefferson

So disappointed that Arsenal are getting involved in NFT’s. These kind of get rich quick fads leave a lot of people hurt and the NFT game has already been revealed to be a hot bed of money laundering, financial crimes and pump and dumps. To push that on your fans so a third party can exlpoit them in return for a quick bit of sponsorship cash is shameful.

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