Paddy Power Pistorius ad ban justified, says IPM
The Advertising Standards Authority was right to ban Paddy
Power’s Oscar Pistorius betting advertisement, which appeared in the Sun
newspaper, on the grounds that it was offensive, the IPM says.
Copy in the ad said people could get “MONEY BACK IF HE
WALKS” and “WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE
IS FOUND NOT GUILTY”.
The ad attracted a record 5,525 complaints, with
complainants saying that it trivialised the issues surrounding a murder trial
and the death of a woman and was also offensive to disabled people.
The ASA agreed with the complainants, and took the unusual
step of banning the ad while investigating the complaints.
Hina Gohil, in-house lawyer with the IPM’s Legal Advisory
Service, says: “We think it is appalling that any advertiser could think it was
acceptable to run a ‘cash back’ offer like this which makes light of a case
where a women has been shot dead by her boyfriend.”
Paddy Power argued that offering odds on the trial of Oscar
Pistorius merely reflected the high level of international public interest in
the story, rather than being a commentary on death or violence. They also
argued that although there was a double meaning to “IF HE WALKS”, such
references were frequently used in association with court cases.
The ASA dismissed both arguments, finding that the
particular text used in the ad was likely to be interpreted as making light of
the issues surrounding the trial, which included the death of a woman who had
been shot by her boyfriend.
The ASA acknowledged that the “IF HE WALKS” phrases
is commonly used in court; however, given the context, it was likely to be
understood by readers as a clear reference to Oscar Pistorius’s disability.
The ASA ruled that the ad breached the CAP Code, firstly
because it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence (Rule 4.1) and secondly
because references to anyone who is dead have be handled with particular care
to avoid causing offence or distress (Rule 4.3).
In addition, the ASA felt that
the ad caused such a level of harm and offence so as to bring advertising into
disrepute (Rule 1.5).
The IPM is the marketing industry trade body
which represents brand owners, agencies and services providers responsible for
promotional marketing campaigns. It sits at the heart of the self-regulatory
system which governs marketing and advertising in the UK and is a stakeholder
in the Committee of Advertising Practice, the body which writes the rules which
marketers have to follow.