In the rulings released by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on 13th April 2016, Paddy Power’s name appeared in the list once again.
This brand has often fallen foul of complaints to the ASA but on this occasion, the complaint was not upheld and Paddy Power did not receive the usual slap on the wrist.
Usually, when we read about gambling related complaints with the ASA, there has only been one complaint received but in the case of the Paddy Power poster, there were two complainants!
The poster in question was seen in Liverpool and featured an image of a wheelchair that had the words Property of LFC on the back. The wording in large text read ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ with smaller text that said ‘(or ever again if you play for Klopp)’.
The advert was shown in January 2016 and was created following stories of 13 of Liverpool FC’s team being deemed unfit to play because of leg injuries. This was attributed to the intensive training techniques said to be used by Jurgen Klopp, the manager who had only recently been appointed.
As is often the case, Twitter was up in arms over the advert with these being just some of the comments we could find, including one that even mentions complaining to the ASA:
@paddypower So you think being in a wheelchair is funny? What’s funnier is my complaint to the advertising standards authority #Arses
So @paddypower didn’t think this one through. Why is being in a wheelchair a source of amusement? I won’t bet with them again.
Whilst a wheelchair user saw the funny side:
@paddypower How did you find out about me signing for Liverpool as a GK?? (I’m 43 years old and a wheelchair user)
Paddy Power succinctly defended their advert explaining the joke being relevant to the injuries sustained by LFC players.
Luckily, the ASA saw that the following points clearly indicated that this was not intended to cause offence to the disabled or wheelchair users of any description but simply a joke referencing player injuries:
The complainants challenged whether the posted was likely to cause serious or widespread offence and whilst for some who didn’t see the joke, it may have done, the ASA investigated under the following CAP code and chose to release an assessment of Not Upheld.
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code.