We’ve all seen it by now. “Singapore anti-gambling advert falls flat after Germany win,” screams Channel NewsAsia. Even the Wall Street Journal proclaims: “German Success Unravels Singapore’s Anti-Soccer Betting Ad“. People all over my Facebook feed are gleefully making fun of the advertisement, as if it has somehow failed. Aren’t we missing the point a little bit?
Of course, sometimes gamblers win. That’s what makes gambling so addictive. We all know that gambling is a problem, and this ostensibly ‘failed’ ad just gave the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) an incredible return on its investment.
We all know who to call now, if we ever need help with problem gambling.
I don’t think any of us need any convincing that gambling is, by and large, a guilty pleasure that we indulge in only once in awhile. This is why it is a social norm to only gamble during certain periods associated with Bacchanalian revelry. We gamble only when we meet during certain festive periods (lookin’ at you, Chinese New Year) or when we are on holiday (lookin’ at you, Genting Highlands). If a family member starts to gamble compulsively, we’re more likely to freak out than to approve of his/her behaviour. Why? Because gambling addiction is a real problem that has more consequences than only an empty bank account.
Choosing Germany for the ad seems to be a stroke of genius and luck. If the boy said something unrelated to the World Cup (“I can’t play football anymore, I have to work. My dad lost all our savings gambling.”), only a fraction of us would have seen this ad. The majority of us probably would have ignored the ad with the sad boys (too busy looking at highlights of a certain 7-1 match, I suppose?).
If I were the NCPG, I’d wait till the World Cup is over before releasing a statement to the public. If Germany loses in the final, the NCPG could say “Aha! I told you so!”, and if Germany wins, it could release a more sober statement about how gambling’s little successes contribute to a larger problematic addiction.
What a mind trick.
PS: This writer is a private tutor and editor. He needs a bit more money. If Goodfellas want to give me some of their bonuses…. please do 😉