Paddy Power Once Again Causes Controversy with Its Advertisement

November 29th, 2019 3.00pm

What are the criteria for a good ad? Is it to draw the attention of customers, or is it all about selling a product or a service, regardless of the means used to do so?

Certain conditions have to be met, or otherwise, governments would create advertising regulatory bodies to oversee thousands of ads we see every day.

However, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and some advertisers definitely exploit this fact.

Paddy Power and Its Advertisements

One advertisement from the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power drew the attention of the country’s regulator earlier this year after it raised controversy due to its allegedly racist and anti-English content. The advertisement was a part of Paddy Power’s 2019 Six Nations Championship campaign.

According to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), the advertisement breached several industry standards, while since its publication in the Irish Times and Irish Star, a total of 6 complaints were filed with the Irish watchdog.

In addition to these newspapers, the campaign was also used on Paddy Power’s social media accounts.

The advertisement said: “Dear England, Sorry for the last two years of pain, suffering and humiliation. Another 798 and we’ll be even.”

The ASAI explained the complaints deemed the ad in question as racists, offensive and anti-English, pointing out it was not only insensitive towards English people but also bigoted towards them. In the end, the regulator agreed, adding the “we’ll be even” part would cause even more offence. In an official press statement, the ASAI explained that launching such content had been completely irresponsible to both customers and Irish society.

Exploiting an Old Rivalry

However, Paddy Power said the controversial advertisement represented a humorous take on the poor form of the English national rugby team in the recent matches against their Irish counterparts. The operator went on to say, the ad also debated events in England following the Brexit referendum.

Back in June 2016, 51.9% of the UK voters said they wanted their country to leave the European Union. At the same time, the Republic of Ireland remains an EU member, while the upcoming withdrawal from the Union could cause serious border problems between the two countries.

Another reference is somewhat controversial: the “another 798”, which refers to the alleged 800 years of British rule over the entire Emerald Isle.

Paddy Power pointed out the ad was based on the sporting rivalry between the two neighbouring nations. According to the company’s officials, the advertisement was well-received, and the majority of opinions about it were positive.

It Could Have Been Worse… It Did in the Past

However, the ASAI didn’t share the bookie’s opinion. Still, no further action will be taken, as the advertisement was a part of a one-off campaign that has since been finished.

Paddy Power has become known for its controversial advertisements, while 7 complaints have been received by the ASAI since 2014. Back in 2010, an advertisement showing sight-impaired football players kicking a cat lead to more than 400 complaints to the Irish regulator.

One of their worst moments ever was back in November 2008, when Barack Obama became the new president of the United States. The Irish operator offered its customers to bet whether Obama will be assassinated during his first term in the office.

Paddy Power also launched another controversial ad ahead of the most recent presidential elections, which were held in 2016. Titled “Orange is the new black”, the campaign offered odds of 3/1 for Donald Trump to become the new president of the United States.


Another Paddy Power Controversial Ad