The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that a sweary Paddy Power ad mocking FIFA president Sepp Blatter was not in breach of its rules regarding ability to cause widespread offence.
The ad, which was posted in The Guardian’s sports section, featured betting odds on the likely candidates for the upcoming election for President of FIFA. Blatter was shown holding a small piece of paper, which had the name of the winner on it and said “ME” with a headline “JUST F**K OFF ALREADY!”
After receiving the single complaint, the ASA investigated the matter. When asked about the ad, Paddy Power explained that it wanted to keep with its distinctive voice, adding that the asterisks lessened the severity of offence generated by the ad.
Paddy Power also said that the ad was received well by the public, which was intended to reflect popular sentiment regarding the ongoing corruption scandal in “a humorous and irreverent” manner.
The ASA pointed out that despite the use of asterisks the meaning of the word was quite clear. Yet, given the fact that it appeared in The Guardian, which is known to be oriented towards adult readership, the regulatory body decided that the swear word would be generally accepted as a “light-hearted comment” rather than as something that is intended to cause offense.
“We considered that readers of that section were likely to understand that the ad was intended to be a light hearted comment on the ongoing allegations of corruption within FIFA, and in particular the controversy surrounding Sepp Blatter‘s tenure as FIFA president,” said the ASA. “Because we did not consider the ad would be offensive to those who were likely to see it, we concluded that it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.”
Paddy odds have Michael Platini in the lead to win the 2015 FIFA Presidential election at 3/10 followed by Prince Ali at 7/2 with Sheik Ahmad Al-Sabah at 14/1.