The U.K. advertising watchdog banned seven cryptocurrency ads on Wednesday and said they must not appear again.
The Advertising Standards Authority said the ads were “banned for irresponsibly taking advantage of consumers’ inexperience and for failing to illustrate the risk of the investment.”
The banned ads included a website and Twitter post from a pizza chain as well as a digital poster from a crypto exchange.
The majority of the banned ads were put out by crypto exchanges and crypto trading platforms.
Companies affected by the bans include eToro, Coinburp, Coinbase Europe, Luno Money, Exmo Exchange, Payward and Papa John’s GB.
Papa John’s bitcoin ad
Papa John’s website ad stated “Free bitcoin worth £10 [$13]” and “Save £15 when you spend £30 or more & get £10 worth of Bitcoin from Luno!” The Twitter ad was similar.
Papa John’s said the ads were part of an annual celebration of “Bitcoin pizza day,” which is meant to mark the day when two Papa John’s pizzas were bought for 10,000 bitcoins in May 2010. Today, the same amount of bitcoins would be worth $482 million.
The pizza chain argued that the ad made no comment on investing in bitcoin and the promotion only offered a mechanism for customers to get free bitcoin.
But the ASA concluded that the offer “trivialized” a “serious and potentially costly financial decision.”
“The ads were addressed to a general audience and we considered that most of those who engaged in a promotion linked to buying pizza were likely to be inexperienced in their understanding of cryptocurrencies and the risks inherent in doing so,” it said. “We further noted that the ads contained no risk warnings about cryptocurrency.