he email promoting the Ladbrokes casino featured an image of Iron Man and the text: “Enjoy this exclusive Ladbrokes welcome offer with Iron Man 3.”
Ladbrokes said all its email offers were sent to registered customers or those known to be over 18.
It said the image was “adult-themed” and reflected popular culture, adding that evidence indicated that followers of Marvel comics and superheroes were predominantly adults.
The bookmaker argued that this was supported by data on attendance at Comic-Con events and Facebook demographics for the Marvel brand.
The Advertising Standards Authority noted in its ruling upholding a complaint against the email that gambling ads must not be likely to be of particular appeal to children, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
The ASA said it understood that the email was only sent to over-18s, but it nevertheless should not be of particular appeal to young people.
It said that as all Facebook users must declare themselves to be at least 13 years old, younger children were therefore excluded from the sample.
The ASA said: “We considered those younger children were likely to be the primary audience for Iron Man action figures and related merchandise, which we understood were widely available at toy retailers.
“We understood that Iron Man was a popular character that would appeal to many adults but considered its comic book nature, and the availability of various related toys, meant it was likely to have particular appeal to children and young people.
“We therefore concluded that the ad breached the code.”