ASA bans Paddy Power ad for showing gambling “taking priority”

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has addressed complaints against three advertisements from Paddy Power, upholding one but opting not to uphold two.

The ads were broadcast across TV and radio in March this year.

One of the ads, which was shown on TV, depicted a man gambling on Paddy Power’s Wonder Wheel game on his phone. The man’s partner asked him whether he thought she would look like her mother someday, to which he replied “I hope so” while continuing to gamble on his phone.

A voice over then played, which said: “So no matter how badly you stuff it up, you’ll always get another chance with Paddy Power games.”

Two complainants criticised whether the ad showed someone so immersed in gambling that it took priority over normal life. Another complainant challenged the voice over, and whether this encouraged irresponsible gambling behaviours.

The ASA upheld these complaints, agreeing that the ad had depicted gambling as “taking priority” over family life and that the “stuff it up” reference “gave the impression that the decision to gamble, even in the face of repeated losses, should be taken lightly.”

The second ad, which was broadcast on radio, received a complaint for allegedly containing harmful references to Irish immigration in the context of Cheltenham 2022.

The ad said: “Cheltenham 2022 is underway, and we’ve already seen some cracking contests in the Cotswolds. Not to mention the biggest influx of Irish since London in the 1980s.”

The complaints questioned whether this was likely to cause serious offence, while one complainant believed that this could be a reference to IRA attacks. The same complainant questioned whether another part of the ad, which stated that the British trainers would “put the Irish trainers back in their little green horse boxes”, was a derogatory reference to immigration.

The ASA did not uphold these complaints, stating that the ad was not clearly referencing the IRA and was instead focused on the long-standing sporting rivalries between the British and the Irish.

A complaint about the third ad was also not upheld. It was broadcast on radio and depicted a man having a conversation with his potential father-in-law, wherein Cheltenham 2022 is referenced alongside a sexual innuendo.

The father also uses the term “my Olivia” to describe his daughter.

The complainant challenged whether the ad was degrading to women, both in terms of the innuendo and the use of “my”. The ASA did not uphold this, stating that the scenario referenced “the anxiety about saying or doing something inappropriate when meeting a partner’s family for the first time” and did not enforce gender stereotypes.

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