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Advertising Standards Authority Bans Infamous Oscar Pistorius Ad From Paddy Power

Mar 24, 2014

pistorius1-bjc-240314The ad banned

Advertising Standards Authority ordered to remove Paddy Power’s Oscar Pistorius ad in its current form.

Only some extremely lazy media portals haven’t bashed Paddy Power for their infamous Oscar Pistorius advert. The online and mobile sportsbook operating under British gambling laws has already been cracked down by the Advertising Standards Authority for advertising “money off if he walks” free from his trial.

Paddy are renowned for their borderline advertising campaigns, but this particular one may have gone too far. The ad has quickly become the most complained about advert in the United Kingdom of all time. A total number of 5,525 complaints has been recorded so far, but more are still coming in.

The ad and the regulator

It was high time for the Advertising Standards Authority to step in and govern the matter. The ad has appeared once in The Sun on Sunday, revealing a picture similar to an Oscar prize statuette with Pistorius face photoshopped onto it. The line read: “It’s Oscar Time. Money back if he walks. We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is found not guilty.”

The advert has fueled fury on the day of Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial. Protests featuring a petition on, have labeled the ad “sick” and called for any money raised by the online sportsbook in the United Kingdom to be forwarded to groups working to tackle violence against women.

Advertising Standards Authority reacts to infamous Paddy advert

• Oscar Pistorius ad from Paddy Power received lots of criticism and complaints

• The bookie operating under British gambling laws was ordered to remove the ad

• Paddy Power is renowned for borderline advertising campaigns

This time around the Advertising Standards Authority carried out an unusual move by ordering an immediate removal of the ad, while it investigates. The reasons for investigations were the complaints that the advert has trivialized the issues of a murder trial, death of a woman and even a disability.

Other complaints were circling around the fact that the ad could lead to widespread offence. Advertising Standards Authority challenged the ad whether it has brought the advertising into disrepute. Paddy Power retaliated saying that in context of the high-level of media coverage the trial was enjoying, it wasn’t a surprise that the ad received so many complaints.

British gambling news quoted Paddy Power officials saying they believed the sports betting offering on a leading news story hasn’t trivialized the abovementioned issues in any way. According to them the ad represented a reflection of public interest, fueled by the media, and was in no way a commentary on death, disability, or violence.

However, Paddy accepted the ad contained double meaning of “if he walks”, but that didn’t cause widespread offence. It was merely an inoffensive play on words. The bookies were quick to add that they are a company that has been and still is supporting various sporting events involving disabled athletes.

pistorius2-bjc-240314Double meanings or just play on words?..

Newspaper’s reaction

The newspaper where the ad was published, The Sun on Sunday, revealed that the decision to go ahead with the advert was carried out in good faith and wasn’t intended to offend the readers. They added that the offence the ad had caused is regretted. Newspaper has also added they will ensure the raised concerns will be taken into consideration for any relevant decisions in the future.

The outcome

Advertising Standards Authority revealed that after thorough investigation it didn’t find the ad to make any explicit reference to death, violence or disability. However, the advertising rules clearly state that any references to anyone who was dead, were to be handled with special care. The authority confirmed the advert could be interpreted as shedding light on the issues surrounding a murder trial, where a woman has been shot by her boyfriend.

ASA has also noted that the ad’s line “money back if he walks” could be construed as an attempt to focus on the serious decision-making process within the trial, at the same time reference to Pistorius’ disability could cause widespread offence.

The Advertising Standards Authority’s statement reads: “We acknowledged that the ad had appeared in the context of a high profile murder trial that had received extensive media coverage and was of interest to the public.”

It goes on to state: “We considered it would therefore have been reasonable to foresee that serious or widespread offence was likely to be caused by placing an ad that sought commercial advantage based on that trial and which made light of the sensitive issues involved. Given the content of the ad, and the prevailing circumstances at the time of its publication, we concluded that it brought advertising into disrepute.”

The ruling of Advertising Standards Authority has banned the ad in its current form. The authority added: “We told Paddy Power to ensure their future ads did not cause serious or widespread offence and did not bring advertising into disrepute.”

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