Wednesday March 5,2014 : ASA RULES PADDY POWER PISTORIUS CAMPAIGN BE PULLED
Likely to cause widespread offence,says UK advertising watchdog
Paddy Power has been ordered by the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to pull a rather distasteful ad campaign centred on the current trial of South African Para-Olympian Oscar Pistorius following receipt of a record 5 200 complaints.
The online and print campaign is running bets on the trial under the strapline "money back if he walks". The print ad which shows an Oscar statuette sporting Pistorius' face says "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".
An online petition at Change.org, which was initiated by "Jean Hatchet" a pseudonym for a feminist campaigner, garnered 122 000 signatures.
"I started the petition because this is an inhuman thing for a company to do and someone had to. If it wasn't me, it would have been any one of the fine women I meet every day both on and offline, campaigning to keep women safe and help them heal," commented "Hatchet", herself a victim of domestic abuse.
"So for Paddy Power to see that vast pile of ruin and think that it is an appropriate way to make a profit and keep shareholders grinning makes my blood run cold. It did yesterday. It does today. It will tomorrow," Hatchet was quoted as saying in The Guardian newspaper.
According to a report in The Independent.ie, Paddy Power's chief financial officer Cormac McCarthy refused to apologise for the stunt, saying: “We’re offering a market on the outcome of a trial because people want to bet on it. We’ve had over a thousand people place bets on this. It is the story of the year – it’s the water cooler conversation, everybody is talking about it. We are just responding to demand by offering a price on that. That’s what we do.”
ASA chairman Lord Smith has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the campaign saying it must "remain out of all circulation in UK media" until the ASA has completed its investigation.
"We consider the ad may be seriously prejudicial to the general public on the ground of the likely further serious and/or widespread offence it may cause," the ASA said in a statement today (Wednesday).
"We are also concerned that the good reputation of the advertising industry may be further damaged by continued publication of this ad."