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Paddypower’s Pistorius Blunder

Paddy Power Made The Wrong Call On Oscar

Paddy Power has always been a site and company that likes to play on the border of good taste or the laws of the game. They have long been highlighting the darker side of football with some of their betting deals and money back offers. This isn’t to say that the firm has only been focused on causing trouble, but they have often focused on controversial topics. Their rainbow laces campaign, battling against homophobia in football, has certainly been a topic that has got people talking, and while many people support the campaign, they feel as though the tactics used by Paddy Power are causing trouble for the sake of it.

While many of the campaigns used by Paddy Power are seen as fun, there was universal disdain about their offer made surrounding the trial of Oscar Pistorius. The “Blade Runner” was accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, and the site decided that this was an event that was worth offering bets on. This alone was enough to annoy some folk but the fact that the site promised “to refund all losing bets if Pistorius was found not guilty” was bad enough, the accompany headline of “Money Back If He Walks” was the final straw for many people.

When the betting site talks about diving players and bad decisions from a referee, their focus is clearly on particular people, but it is all part and parcel of sport. In this instance, someone died and the majority of right minded people wouldn’t think that this was a topic to be treated in such a light-hearted or trivial manner.

There were over 5,000 complaints raised with ASA. The fact that there were a number of 5,525 complaints made with the Advertising Standards Authority indicates the strength of feelings about the advert, and some expected the company to back down in the wake of public opinion. However, it was not as if the firm would have started this advertising campaign without thinking it would have been controversial. Swiftly backing down would have lost them a lot of face, so it was left to Paddy Power to stick with their stance, almost revelling in the anger it had caused. The firm released a statement where they were gloating about the number of complaints the advert had received, mocking other firms who had controversial adverts but who never received as many complaints.

Paddy Power is clearly an edge firm and one look at social media sites will tell you that the Oscar Pistorious was a great source of humour for many people. There is an old saying that “comedy is just tragedy plus time” and if that is the case, it didn’t take too many people a lot of time to try and find the humour in this case. However, just because some people were finding humour in the incident and trial, doesn’t make it okay to create an advertising campaign around it.

Paddy Power knew what they were doing. Then again, you know that Paddy Power doesn’t just rush into these ideas, they have an image of being a bad boy betting firm, and they were probably more than happy to whip up a bit of controversy around this story. It ensured the company got a lot of publicity and the thing about online betting is that no one really needs to know who you are betting with. There may have been people who were publically offended by the actions of Paddy Power Bingo, but in private loved the chance to have their bet refunded if they lost, creating a no lose situation for their betting activities.

Paddy Power will have lost some fans and followers due to the Oscar Pistorious but given the way of the world today, they likely gained some new customers as well. If the advert did offend someone and they previously voted with Paddy Power, there were plenty of other betting sites they could swap to, there was no need to continue to provide Paddy Power with your custom if they offended you. However, given that the company’s share price hasn’t collapsed, it seems as though Paddy Power hadn’t fared too badly after this advertising campaign.