ASA bans Mecca Bingo ad starring Baga Chipz for suggesting bingo boosts self-esteem


The ad for Rank Group’s Mecca Bingo depicted drag star Baga Chipz ‘before and after’ game of bingo.

In the image on the left, they were not smiling and were wearing plain, dark clothes, with no make-up. In the image on the right, they had a happy expression, were holding a champagne glass in the air, were wearing a red sequinned outfit, with matching jewellery, and had a full face of make-up.

Text above both images stated “Before playing Mecca Bingo vs after playing Mecca Bingo”. A caption on the post stated “A good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow. Over 18s only.

Two complainants, who believed the ad suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code.

Mecca Bingo said they deliberately omitted any reference to winning at bingo to ensure they avoided suggesting that the “feel good” factor of bingo only came from winning.

They said the reference to having a “good game” was intended to refer to the positive experience and atmosphere of Mecca Bingo venues and the benefits brought by the social interaction people had when attending. They said there was nothing in the ad which suggested winning at bingo would give someone a sense of positive recognition, admiration or superiority.

The ASA acknowledged that the ad featured well-known drag queen Baga Chipz and that the two images, combined with a reference to being transformed, would have been interpreted by some viewers to be a reference about drag queens. The ASA still considered the overall impression of the ad, particularly through the contrasting images, suggested gambling could improve an individual’s self-image or self-esteem.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Mecca Bingo Ltd to ensure their future marketing communications contained nothing that suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem.