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

The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued a warning to a number of cryptocurrency exchanges and trading platforms over crypto ads that it deems irresponsible and misleading, according to a report by the BBC.

Seven Crypto Ads Banned In The UK

Among the brands targeted by the ASA for their promotions includes Coinbase Europe, eToro, Luno Money, Coinburp, Exmo Exchange, Payward, and Papa John’s. The ads were banned for “irresponsibly taking advantage of consumers’ inexperience and for failing to illustrate the risk of the investment,” the ASA stated.

Being home to many exchanges and projects, the U.K is no stranger to crypto advertisements. Various firms have rolled out campaigns on trains and buses in London following the parabolic price action of crypto assets. Though most adverts have proceeded without incident, some have, however, proven controversial and drawn the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority.

Popular pizza chain Papa John’s is said to have offered £10 worth of Bitcoin for free in May to customers. The company also allegedly told customers they would save £15 if they spent £30 or more on pizza. Papa John’s is believed to have associated its advert to Bitcoin pizza day — which marks the day when 10,000 bitcoins were used to purchase two Papa John’s pizzas.

The pizza chain claimed the promotion did not urge customers to invest in cryptocurrency as it only provided a means for them to get free Bitcoin. But the UK Advertising Standards Authority concluded that this Bitcoin promotion “trivialized what was a serious and potentially costly financial decision, especially in the context of the intended audience who were likely to have limited knowledge of cryptocurrency.”

ASA On “Red Alert” Over Cryptocurrency

ASA’s director of complaints and investigations, Miles Lockwood, has declared cryptocurrencies a “red alert priority” for the regulator. He went on to criticize misleading crypto ads that take advantage of inexperienced investors:

“Consumers need to know about the risks of investing in crypto-assets and companies should make sure that their ads aren’t misleading or socially irresponsible by taking advantage of consumers’ lack of awareness around these complex and volatile products.”

Notably, this is not the first time the ASA has wrestled with crypto ad campaigns. Just in May, the UK regulator banned a campaign that explicitly told UK residents to buy Bitcoin.

The ASA also went after Luno, proclaiming that its “it’s time to buy” statement would give customers the idea that investing in Bitcoin and other crypto-assets was “straightforward”. The U.K advertising regulator said it had received four complaints regarding the ad.

Moreover, the ASA chided Floki Inu advertisements that were plastered across the London public transportation system. And last month, the watchdog launched investigations into these ads.

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