PMU Kennedy assassination advert generates headlines, controversy

pmu-kennedy-advertFrench horse wagering operator Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) is coming under fire in the United States over its latest marketing campaign. The ‘You Like To Bet’ spot (viewable below) features a pair of Dallas policemen in Dealey Plaza circa 1963 betting on whether or not one can successfully spin his service revolver like they do in the cowboy movies. Sure enough, the gun goes off and the bullet ricochets off several hard surfaces before we cut to a very familiar shot of someone dressed like Jackie Kennedy crawling over the trunk of a black open-top sedan while Secret Service agents spring into action.

The ad is generating a lot of heat in US media circles over its purported insensitivity toward the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the 50th anniversary of which arrives this November. (It probably doesn’t help that the annual memorial surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington is currently in full swing.) Other ads in PMU’s campaign feature the captain of the Titanic playing a game in which he tries to steer the ship blindfolded, leading to, well, you know.

PMU’s Cyril Girraudat justified the campaign’s tone as an attempt to steer the company away from its reputation for catering to the “40-year-old punter sitting in a corner bistro” to attracting the attention of a younger, less sensitive demographic. Giraudat attempted a thematic dodge, saying the ads were intended to remind viewers that “challenge is part of our DNA and provides for having made a bet in the heart of history.” Except that your losing wager on Arsenal doesn’t generally result in the death of a sitting head of state.

Few doubt the rationale behind Woody Allen’s formula of “comedy = tragedy + time,” but the amount of time required before hilarity ensures is a somewhat more contentious matter. PMU’s Kennedy ad recalls that old verbal aside Johnny Carson used to direct Ed McMahon’s way any time a Tonight Show joke strayed a little close to the edge of impropriety. “Can’t do Lincoln. Too soon.” Bear in mind that this was over a century since Honest Abe was assassinated, so perhaps Americans are just genetically inclined to oversensitivity on certain subjects.

Regardless, we eagerly await PMU’s next side-splitting ad featuring a pair of wacky French frogmen who try to catch fish using dynamite, only to end up accidentally sinking Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship and killing photographer Fernando Pereira in the process. Sorry… Too soon?

In less controversial news, PMU has inked a three-year deal with France Pari’s B2B division Sportnco to provide PMU subsidiary Genybet with a fixed-odds sports betting platform, risk management tools and a mobile betting product. PMU has also extended its partnership with Switzerland’s Loterie Romande to provide horse wagering products to the German-language Swisslos lottery. To start, Swisslos will provide PMU’s tote offering at 40 points of sale in six Swiss cantons, expanding to eight more cantons in due course. Finally, PMU has launched mobile poker apps for both iOS and Android. PMU’s online poker site operates as part of Party Poker’s French-facing network, but the apps were developed in-house, poking holes in the myth that surrender monkeys are incapable of any activity beyond eating cheese.