Upcoming Courses

view-all

Upcoming Events

view-all

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.