Paddy Power has once again had an ad banned and removed from circulation due to the fact that it encourages people to engage in repetitive gambling activities. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the ad, which depicts a woman asking her boyfriend whether he thinks she will end up looking like her mum, but he is distracted by a Paddy Power gambling app and simply replies, “I hope so”.
According to the ASA, the advertisement promotes the idea that gambling is taking precedence over family life – something that a responsible gambler would not be influenced by. Paddy Power said that it has accepted the decision made by the advertising regulatory body of the UK and would take into consideration the guidance that was given to it in the process.
First shown on television in March of this year, it didn’t take long for the ad to come under fire. Within it, the man is sat in the living room with his girlfriend, playing a game hosted by Paddy Power on his mobile device. The mother of his girlfriend then provides each of them with a drink, after which his girlfriend asks the aforementioned question. It is at this point that the man replies, without thinking or really hearing the query, continuously staring at the game on his phone. His girlfriend gives him a look of disbelief, to which he looks ashamed before returning to the game in hand.
Closing out the commercial, a narrator’s voice specifies that regardless of how badly you stuff up in reality, you will always “get another chance” with games on the Paddy Power app.
Three complaints were received by the ASA regarding the gambling company’s ad, and all of these were upheld. One of them went as far as saying that the advertisement showed the man being so preoccupied with gambling that it had led to him making a remark that was described as “inappropriate”.
Advert “Encourages Repetitive Gambling”
The authority on advertisements in the United Kingdom took the opportunity to investigate and review the ad in question. And after doing so, it stated that it “encouraged repetitive gambling” due to the fact that it portrays gambling as being something that has overtaken family life as a priority.
Responding to the complaints and decision on the ad, Paddy Power told the BBC that the company is “committed” when it comes to responsible practice. The company spokesperson went on to say that it is always the intent of Paddy Power to comply with codes set out by the ASA. It then went on to confirm that it has accepted the final decision of the regulatory body, which has led to the ad being banned from being broadcast ever again.
Yet the gambling company did also defend itself when originally given the news on the investigation into the ad. Instead, it said that the ad implied more of a “commitment to family life”, due to the fact that it portrayed a traditional family setting throughout. The man has clearly joined his girlfriend for a traditional Sunday lunch at her parents’ house, the company said, and the ad was only meant to be a light-hearted one.
The ad had previously been cleared for airing by Clearcast, which is the company responsible for such. It also confirmed that it has accepted the ruling by the ASA regarding Paddy Power’s offending ad and will take the final guidance into consideration in future when it comes to the clearance of ads.
Not the First Time for Paddy Power
While Paddy Power has stated that it has a commitment to following all advertising compliance rules, this is not the first time that an ad from the gambling brand has been targeted and/or banned.
In 2019, the company had an advertisement featuring the brother of footballer Ryan Giggs banned, after it was determined that it glamorised gambling. In that ad, Rhodri Giggs was seen as the face of the brand’s loyalty scheme, and he informed viewers that he had always “lived a loyal life”. This then displayed him always drinking in the same pub, working out in the same gym every day and using the same brand of teabags all the time. Yet when he became an ambassador for the Paddy Power Rewards Club, his loyalty had got him nowhere and instead he was “living for rewards”. From there, Giggs rejected his usual pint of beer and ordered champagne as an alternative before driving off in a sports car.
After that ad was first aired, the ASA received 5 complaints that claimed it was irresponsible. The behaviour of Giggs in the ad, the complainants said, glamorised gambling whilst suggesting it was a way to achieve a better standard of living.
Paddy Power also had an ad banned in 2012, which had attracted more than 400 complaints about it being highly offensive. Within that television commercial, viewers were asked to “spot the stallions from the mares”, when referring to actors performing as transgender ladies within the crowd of racing fans attending Cheltenham Festival. Clearcast originally gave Paddy Power the go-ahead to have it broadcast, but it was suspended after a consultation took place days later. Bodies including the Kent Transgender Forum and the LGBT group argued that the ad encourages discrimination and is highly offensive to transgender people.
Paddy Power responded to this by saying that the commercial contained “adult humour” which was directed at such an audience. It claimed that it had been the victim of an “organised campaign”, which supposedly overrepresented concern over the ad. It went on to state that it had consulted with the Beaumont Society (a UK transgender group) prior to creating the ad to ensure it met with “decency standards”. However, that society claimed that the script they were shown did not include certain scenes that had been used within the ad, and that it was “not happy” with the finished commercial.
Another instance of a banned ad occurred in 2017, when the ASA restricted one from being aired due to it promoting gambling while at work. The regulatory body said that this served as a “socially irresponsible” act by Paddy Power, with the ad displaying a security guard playing on the brand’s slots while at his place of work. Officials at Paddy Power disagreed that the ad promoted such activity, pointing out that the security guard only had a single spin on the game and that he was portrayed as being on his break at the time.
In the same year, another ad featuring Floyd Mayweather was investigated for being racist. In the ad, an image of the boxer was used with the tagline, “always bet on black”, which ran in the Metro and London Evening Standard newspapers prior to Mayweather’s comeback fight against Conor McGregor.