5/13/10 – The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is to investigate an ‘offensive' Paddy Power advert after receiving more than 400 complaints from the public, The Guardian newspaper reports. The advert is the work of Big Al's Creative Emporium, and has managed to put the cat squarely in among the pigeons.
It shows sight-impaired footballers accidentally kicking a cat into a tree, and it has triggered a slew of complaints on grounds that it is offensive and encourages cruelty to animals, or that it is insulting in its depiction of sight-impaired people.
The campaign in which the ad features launched last month, and forms part of a major marketing push in the run-up to the football World Cup.
The Guardian reports that despite the ad being approved by Clearcast, a body that vets TV ads before broadcast, the commercial has clearly hit a sensitive public nerve.
Following the receipt of the complaints, the ASA has advised that it has launched an investigation to ascertain whether the commercial breaks the advertising code.
To gain clearance, Paddy Power ensured the TV ad featured some genuine sight-impaired footballers – several of whom are likely to represent England in this summer's World Blind Football Championships, including the team captain, Ajmal Ahmed.
Paddy Power has been hauled up before over its creative but sometimes controversial adverts. The Irish bookmaker was forced to shelve another ad by Big Al's Creative Emporium in March, featuring four wheelchair-bound actors "doing a runner" on their bill from a curry house. In the past, the gambling company has also had to explain ads that allegedly mocked little people and even the Catholic church.
Brand Republic recalls that the company also became notorious for controversially offering odds on the assassination of the US president.