In Need of a Better Slogan? BGC’s Efforts Prove to Be Futile


Unfortunately, the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC)  follow-up to its long-running ‘When the Fun Stops, Stop’ campaign has failed to capture the public’s attention and inspire action. The regulated industry’s new key safer gambling message, ‘Take Time to Think’, was launched in 2021 through a series of TV advertisements illustrating a scene showcasing customers mid-play before considering the use of safer gambling tools. 

While the campaign’s predecessor focused on helping to address problem gambling, the ‘Take Time To Think’ campaign was created with the intention of encouraging customers to moderate their play and stay in control by taking time to consider the safer gambling tools operators provide like time-outs, self-exclusion and deposit limits. 

However, despite the BGC’s best efforts such as conducting extensive customer research to inform the campaign as well as working with operators, government stakeholders and academics, the multi-million-pound campaign has achieved less than stellar results. 

 Poor Results 

In an attempt to explore the effectiveness of the BGC’s ‘Take Time To Think ‘ slogan, the University of Warwick conducted an in-depth study analyzing results from a randomized online experiment. Academics from the esteemed educational institution created an online game and provided each of the 1,500 participants with a £5 bonus.

The participants were segmented into three groups, with one group playing the game with the ‘Take Time To Think’ slogan featured clearly in the background, another group playing with the slogan positioned in the background as well as a pop-up window which the user had to actively close in order to continue playing and the third group playing with no slogan displayed. 

Factors taken into account susceptibility were considered, these included the quantity of no deposit free spins by and whether those possibly affected would usually play casino games in the first place.

Throughout the duration of the experiment, a total of 13,590 spins were made and the results indicated that despite the slightly different gaming scenarios for each individual group, whether or not they received the message, the participants spent approximately the same amount of time placing each bet, played for a strikingly similar amount of time and made almost identical numbers of roulette spins. As such the study concluded that the messaging displayed had minimal to no effect on participants’ gambling behavior. 

What Went Wrong? 

Responsible gambling awareness campaigns are widely used as tools to enable informed choices and encourage appropriate gambling behavior. The advertising landscape is already overly saturated with brands constantly vying for consumer attention. Unfortunately for awareness campaigns since the intention is not to sell a service or product, capturing consumers’ fleeting attention is no easy feat. 

As such the messaging behind the campaigns needs to be impactful and resonate with the target audience, without using specialized jargon that can alienate individuals. In fact, according to Professor Elliot Ludvig, a psychology professor at the University of Warwick, the downfall of the BGC’s ‘Take Time To Think’ campaign was due to its weak messaging as the wording of the primary messaging can directly influence the effectiveness of the campaign. 

Commercial gambling has been associated with causing considerable harm to individuals, families and communities. Ludvig stressed that if the industry is going to succeed at preventing such harm, the awareness message must be trialed and tested to guarantee its success and prevent the campaign from failing. 

Ludvig also compared the safer gambling messaging to that of alcohol labels which clearly illustrate how to moderate your alcohol intake and to that of tobacco packaging which provides a stark warning, leaving no room for miscommunication. In fact, research suggests that health warnings on packages are among the most direct and prominent means of communicating with smokers. 

 Closing Remarks 

The BGC needs to use this failure as a learning opportunity to follow suit in the full-proof formats of other controversial industries such as tobacco and alcohol as they work hard to promote better gambling behaviors and inspire action. Additionally, clearer messaging will also provide great transparency around specific games and how the industry works as a whole.