Ads for Coinbase, Kraken, Papa John's Banned in U.K.
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Ads for Coinbase, Kraken, Papa John's Banned in U.K.

9 months ago

The ASA decided that the ad should not appear again in its current form — and future ads must make "sufficiently clear" that the value of cryptocurrencies can go down as well as up.

Ads for Coinbase, Kraken, Papa John's Banned in U.K.

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The United Kingdom's advertising regulator has gone on a banning spree — targeting ads from a number of major crypto exchanges.

Coinbase landed itself in hot water with the Advertising Standards Authority for a Facebook ad over the summer. The paid-for-post had said:

"£5 in #Bitcoin in 2010 would be worth over £100,000 in January 2021. Don’t miss out on the next decade – get started on Coinbase today."

The ASA ruled that this text was misleading, adding:

"It implied there would be a similar, guaranteed increase in Bitcoin value over the next decade and did not make clear that past performance was not necessarily a guide for the future."

The exchange had pushed back — arguing that there was no suggestion that BTC would definitely rise in the future. Instead, Coinbase said its ad "pointed out that it was an exciting time for cryptocurrencies and did not direct users to buy cryptocurrency." 

Ultimately, the ASA decided that the ad should not appear again in its current form — and future ads must make "sufficiently clear" that the value of cryptocurrencies can go down as well as up.

Kraken also fell afoul of the ASA's guidelines in a 20-second advert that was running on screens at London Bridge station. Although it did have a detailed warning that cryptocurrencies can be volatile, it only flashed on the screen for one second. The regulator said:

"We considered it presented the consumer with a large amount of information that would not be fully read or understood even if it was seen at all."

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More Ads Banned

Others to get in trouble with the ASA include eToro. The regulator took issue with an online ad that said Britons could "invest in the world's top cryptos with one click" — and found it was "irresponsible because it took advantage of consumers' inexperience or credulity."

EXMO also fell afoul of the ASA's guidelines for its promotion of a YouTube video, with Luno and CoinBurp also breaching its code. Even the pizza chain Papa John's was caught in the regulator's crosshairs for a promotion that said: "TURN PIZZA INTO £10 WORTH OF BITCOIN."
The ASA has previously declared that crypto advertising is a "red alert" issue — and that they can end up trivializing potentially life-changing sums of money. Other ads have been accused of creating a false sense of urgency.
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