Paddy Power ad campaign draws complaints

23 April 2008

Paddy Power's latest "Going Short" ad campaign has been dubbed "irresponsible" by the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority, prompting the Irish sports book and casino to pull the ads from all media outlets.

The campaign featured a man enjoying a glass of champagne and a cigar in a limousine along with the company of two scantily clad and attractive women. The text below the ad stated, " "WHO SAYS YOU CAN'T MAKE MONEY BEING SHORT? Financial Spread Betting lets you bet on falling (going short) as well as rising share prices (going long), allowing you to make the most out of volatile markets".

The UK Advertising Standards Authority received complaints challenging "whether the ad irresponsibly linked gambling to seduction, sexual success and enhanced attractiveness" and "whether the ad breached the Code by implying gambling could improve self-image or self-esteem or was a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration."

Paddy Power responded to the complaints by saying it "had not intended to breach the CAP Code and that they did not believe the ad did so."

Paddy Power went on to say that "the ad targeted a very specific group of people in the financial spread betting community who would be aware of the connotations of 'going' or 'being' short" and that the ad "was not intended to imply that financial spread betting could improve self-image, or self-control, or that it was a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration."

Paddy Power added that "the aim of the ad was to promote to the target audience the activity of 'going short' whilst re-enacting a famous scene from the film 'Wall Street.'"

The Authority concluded that the ad "suggested this man's 'shortcoming' had been overcome by the wealth he had acquired through gambling and therefore that the ad implied gambling was a way to improve self-esteem or gain recognition or admiration" and told Paddy Power "not to repeat the approach."

This is the first ruling by the authority since a new code was introduced in September of 2007 that tightened advertising rules for gambling Web sites, bookmakers and casinos.

While it complied with authority and pulled the ad, Paddy Power stated on its blog that, "according to the Authority, our advertisement linked online betting with increased sexual prowess – well, it works for me. Of course, it was just a little bit of fun. To ensure we don't get in trouble again, we'll keep this short and sweet…..d'oh."

The blog went on to post a poll for readers to vote on whether the ad campaign was offensive or not.

Gary Trask

Articles by Gary serves as Casino City's Editor in Chief and has more than 25 years of experience as a writer and editor. He also manages new business ventures for Casino City.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

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