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"MISSED DOGE, GET FLOKI," read a crypto advertisement found throughout London's public transport system since last November. Now, the UK's advertising authority has banned the marketing campaign.
Floki refers to a memecoin called Floki Inu, which was created last June. The project got its name after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that his Shiba Inu puppy would be named Floki at roughly the same time.
According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the regulator deemed the Floki campaign "irresponsible" for two reasons.
The primary challenge that the ASA issued was that the text featured in the ad "exploited consumers' fears of missing out and trivialized investment in cryptocurrency." The second challenge suggested that the advertisement "took advantage of consumers' inexperience or credulity."
Floki Ltd, the legal entity behind the cryptocurrency, denied these two challenges, saying that the ad "did not create a sense of urgency for the average consumer," adding that they had launched the campaign after the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) confirmed that the "ad complied with the CAP Code."
Despite the project's responses, the ASA's challenges were upheld, with the advertising watchdog concluding that "the ad must not appear in the form complained about."
UK cracks down on crypto ads
In November 2021, Sian Berry, a Green Party London Assembly member, called for a general ban on all cryptocurrency advertisements.
"Where the advert says 'this is completely unregulated, you may lose all your money,' they [advertisers] ought to have had second thoughts," she said.
This isn't the ASA's first crypto ban, either. Even earlier, in May, the authority banned a similar campaign led by crypto exchange Luno. "If you're seeing on the Underground, it's time to buy," Luno's campaign ad read.
With clubs in the English Premier League also joining the crypto bandwagon, the ASA has had its work cut out for them. In December, they also banned two different advertisements from Arsenal FC that promoted the club’s so-called fan token, AFC.
The advertising watchdog again highlighted that the"ads "trivialized investment" in crypto and "failed to illustrate the risks" involved in doing so.