A pair of UK online gambling operators have been forced to issue public mea culpas for their ill-fated attempts to mimic Paddy Power’s legendarily cheeky marketing tactics.
On Friday, UK betting firm BetBright sent its customers a promotional email with a Good Friday-themed betting offer. The ad suggested that Jesus Christ “would probably frown on you betting on a holy day, but he’s been dead years.” The email went on to say punters shouldn’t let the Son of God “spoil your fun on your day off” because he “probably won’t mind anymore.”
Reaction to the email was swift and largely negative. While a few punters took the joke in stride, others reported being seriously offended. The latter group clearly missed the irony of their outrage, as Christ was renowned for His willingness to forgive those who trespassed against Him.
Within hours of the email’s release, BetBright marketing director Brian Farrell issued a formal apology, calling the Good Friday reference “inappropriate” and clarifying that the company “do not support and will not tolerate derogatory references of any manner.” Farrell assured punters that the company had taken steps to ensure against a repeat occurrence.
BetBright’s retreat came just a week after mobile casino operator Fruity King was taken to the media woodshed after making a joking reference to the Holocaust. Fruity King tweeted a picture of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy with his shirt off, appearing rather gaunt and sporting a closely shaven head, with accompanying text saying he looked “like an extra from Schindler’s List.”
Likening Vardy to characters in a movie about Nazi concentration camps produced howls of outrage via social media, while the National Holocaust Center called the tweet “disrespectful” and “inappropriate.”
Fruity King deleted the tweet two days after its posting, but a company spokesman defended the message, saying it was “a joke and no offence was meant.” The spokesman claimed its “intention was to entertain and certainly not to offend anyone,” noting that the company issues hundreds of tweets that “some people find amusing, some not so amusing.”
Comedian Steve Allen famously observed that the formula for comedy was tragedy plus time. Johnny Carson, who succeeded Allen as host of the Tonight Show, used to tell assassination jokes every year on President Lincoln’s birthday, which usually bombed, leading Carson to turn to sidekick Ed McMahon and remark: “Too soon.” The Holocaust protesters may arguably have a ‘too soon’ claim to make, but when your window of time spans two millennia, it’s time to lighten up.