Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Is the latest ASA Paddy Power ad verdict too harsh

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints that a Paddy Power advert failed to adhere to responsible gaming standards. 

The advert, promoting Paddy Power’s Wonder Wheel game, features a young man so involved in his Paddy Power application that when asked by his on-screen partner “Do you think I will end up looking like my Mum?”, he mistakenly replies “I hope so.” 

Two complaints have been upheld by the ASA, which argued the advertisement depicted “gambling as taking priority in life and was therefore irresponsible” for portraying a man too distracted to pay attention to family matters. These holier-than-thou complaints, however, do not account for the humorous approach of the advert.

Another complaint upheld by the ASA felt “the ad encouraged repeated gambling in the face of a loss,” citing a line following the embarrassing mishap from the on-screen gamer. The line “so no matter how badly you stuff it up, you’ll always get another chance with Paddy Power games”, has been deemed to encourage “gambling behaviour that [is] socially irresponsible.” 

Paddy Power has, understandably, refuted these complaints, claiming the ad “implied commitment to family life by portraying a scene of a traditional family setting… in which the young man realised that he may have offended his girlfriend.” 

The operator also notes its “another chance” line should be considered “in the context of the ad as a whole,” which directly referenced “a real-life example of stuffing up and did not refer to losing a bet.” 

This is not the first time the ASA has upheld advertisement complaints, which, frankly, exaggerate the extent of compliance breaches.  

In July 2019, the ASA overturned an advertising ban that it imposed on Sky Bet, which suggested presenter Jeff Stelling’s comment, “how big is your sports noggin?” implied good knowledge of sports would increase the chances of gambling successfully. 

The ASA realised, in this case, that the complaint against Sky Bet came from too ambiguous a position. Perhaps it will reverse its decision in the case of Paddy Power, too. 

If only for consistency alone, there is hope the ASA’s decision will be reversed.

For more on the case of Sky Bet, click here. Could that case set a precedent for this one?

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