Paddy Power, a brand that has made its name synonymous with not only betting but fun, has had its knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a very controversial advertising campaign.
The ad, featured in a Sunday issue of The Sun, offered odds on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial taking place in South Africa. A huge number of complaints (5525) were registered, and these were upheld along with an accusation by the independent regulator that they had brought ‘advertising into disrepute’. As all of the issues were upheld, the advert has been subsequently banned; although the company had already agreed not to publish the ad again prior to the ASA ruling.
It seems that those that complained to the ASA felt that not only was the title of the offer offensive, with its very obvious inflammatory double entendre focusing on the disability of Pistorius, as the text read “IT’S OSCAR TIME”, “MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS” , but also that it was ‘trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial’.
Paddy Power of course are famous for offering obscure and irreverent markets to punters looking for something a little more exciting to bet on; previous cringe worthy / controversial options that have caused a few tut-tut’s include Which One Direction band member will come ‘out’ first, President Obama failing to finish his term in office due to assassination, Which airline will go bust next, to name but a few. However, the offering of bets on this particular market was widely felt to have crossed the line of taste and decency, with negative comments raised in the national press, social media and even by many in the gambling industry itself.
There is no doubt that Paddy Power won’t be licking their wounds too much as they clearly intended for this piece of viral marketing to do exactly what is described on the tin, but we can’t help wondering what controversial subject will the team at PP focus on next?