On Wednesday, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints against a television ad in which an actor manning a “Paddy Power COMPLAINTS” hotline confirmed that the Paddsters’ Cheltenham free bet offer was “available to everyone, even riff raff.”
The ad included a voiceover that promised punters their “money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second in all races” at that year’s Cheltenham. The actor followed up by adding “That’s every single race, every single day.”
The ad received 12 complaints, most of which complained about the ad’s fine print specifying that the offer wasn’t available to anyone the company determined was “abusing the offer or using the offer to guarantee profits regardless of the outcome.” The fine print also stated the betting operator’s right to restrict a select number of customers from claiming any promotional offer.
In its response to the ASA, Paddy said it had emailed certain customers in advance of the ad’s airing to alert them that they weren’t eligible for this particular offer. Paddy also stated that this policy would be made clear long before a customer could place a bet.
Paddy argued that it didn’t consider these restrictions to be a material condition requiring prominent disclosure in the ad, as the affected customers would have already been made aware of their restrictions. Paddy concluded by saying the “everyone” in “available to everyone” could reasonably be construed as referring to customers who “acted appropriately.”
The ASA acknowledged that the affected customers had been notified in advance, and thus the limitation didn’t require a specific reference in the ad. However, the ASA said the “available to everyone” claim was an absolute claim, “therefore those customers who were restricted were likely to understand that they could participate.”
The ASA also noted that the “T&Cs apply” notice in the ad was insufficient, in that the T&Cs “contradicted rather than clarified” the absolute “everyone” claim. For these reasons, the ASA upheld the complaints and ordered Paddy not to air the ad again in its current form.