Mecca have had a bit of a telling off from the ASA after a whopping TWO PEOPLE complained about one of their Instagram posts, featuring Baga Chipz.
It wasn’t exactly a flagrant breaking of the rules, and to be honest, i’m on the fence over whether I think it goes against the guidelines or not – it’s certainly not a black and white case.
Nevertheless, the ASA have the final say (they didn’t even ask me what I though – the cheek!) and Mecca have had to remove the offending post.
I’m sure it will make all the difference.
You can probably tell i’m leaning towards the side of this ruling being a little over the top, but equally, I understand that the safety of customers is paramount, so being decisive and standing firm on these things is important.
It certainly let’s companies know where the line is.
Why Did Mecca Get in Trouble with the ASA?
The post showed a before bingo and after bingo image of Baga Chipz; the before side was the performer out of make up, looking miserable and more like their real life identity of Leo Loren, while the after side showed Baga in full make-up and a sparkly outfit raising a glass of something fizzy.
The caption read:
“a good game can transform you! Don’t you just love that post-bingo glow. Over 18s only. BeGambleAware.org. DrinkAware.co.uk. Ts&Cs apply. #letaplaymeccabingo #meccabingo #winning #bingo #winningfeeling #feelinggood #bagachipz”
Obviously, the idea was that a game of bingo can cheer you up because it is fun, but the problem was that it could also be read as suggesting that gambling can enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem.
The Rank Group, who own the Mecca brand, said that their aim was to “convey that their services were fun and entertaining”, with the word ‘transform’ used intentionally as a nod to the drag entertainment industry.
They also pointed out that there was no mention if anyone winning anything and that they have worked with Baga Chipz regularly too, so it was not a random association – she is a brand ambassador of sorts.
ASA Uphold Complaints
The ASA did accept that Mecca had been referring to the drag industry in their post, and that some viewers would have interpreted it as such, however, they upheld the complaints and told Mecca to take down the post.
They took issue with the image itself including the wording added to it, as well as the caption.
Their ruling said:
“We considered the text above the image on the left, which stated “Before playing Mecca Bingo” and the text above the image on the right, which stated “vs after playing Mecca Bingo”, implied that an individual would achieve that higher self-image by playing bingo.”
They said that the caption of the post:
“created an impression that an individual could improve their self-esteem, as well as their self-image, by not just playing bingo related games, but also by winning them,”
As well as demanding the post be removed, the ASA reminded Mecca to ensure their future marketing communications contained nothing that suggested gambling could enhance a person’s self-image or self-esteem.
Who is Baga Chipz?
Baga Chipz is a UK drag queen, who rose to fame after competing in the first series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.
She has worked with Mecca bingo many times in the past, promoting the brand through visual marketing and also appearing and performing at Mecca bingo clubs.
She has hosted the Boots Down bingo tour, which has toured Mecca clubs 3 times in the past and last ran in 2022.
It’s part bingo session and part drag queen party, with performances from a number of drag queens as well as other niche artistes (like the Cheeky Girls), plus singing and dancing etc. encouraged from the audience.
There are catwalks, dance offs, and the drag queens even call the bingo which sounds like riotous fun.
In fact, if there is one good thing that has come from this Mecca mishap, it’s that I now know Boots Down Bingo exists – i’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next tour!