ASA orders Paddy Power to withdraw Pistorius advert

6 March 2014

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has order Irish bookmaker Paddy Power to withdraw an advert that offered betting odds on the outcome of the ongoing murder trial of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius.

The decision comes after the ASA said it had received an “unprecedented” number of complaints, an amount widely reported as 5,200 individual complaints.

Following the large amount of complaints, ASA chairman Lord Smith has taken the unusual step of demanding that the advertiser withdraw the advert from circulation pending the outcome of the investigation.

In exceptional circumstances, ASA procedures under the Advertising Code enable it to take interim action and have the adverts amended or withdrawn pending investigation.

As reported by iGaming Business yesterday (Wednesday), the ASA said it would launch a formal investigation into the advert.

Pistorius is currently on trial in South Africa accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in February 2013.

The advert offers people the chance to bet on the outcome of the trial, with the advert featuring an offer for those that place a bet.

The advert appeared in the national press, as well as on Paddy Power’s website and social media feeds.

The advert stated: “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.  PADDY POWER.”

The published advert also comes complete with a picture of Pistorius’s face on an Oscar statue, an image in relation to the Oscars film award ceremony that took place in the US at the weekend.

Complainants have objected that the advert is offensive and made the ASA aware of the concerns.

In response, the ASA has ruled that the advert may be “seriously prejudicial” to the general public on the grounds that it could cause offence.

The regulator also expressed its concerns about how the ad could damage the good reputation of the advertising industry.

The ASA will not investigate complaints about the online advert on the Paddy Power website as it falls outside of its jurisdiction. Such complaints will instead be handled by the Advertising Standards Authority Ireland.

For the UK market, the ASA has ruled that the advert should remain out of circulation in all UK media until the investigation has been considered by the ASA Council and a decision is published on the ASA website.

Related article: ASA to investigate Paddy Power’s Pistorius advert