Ad watchdog sees red over Paddy Power’s ‘always bet on black’

TAGs: Advertising Standards Authority, Bet365, Paddy Power

paddy-power-mayweather-bet-blackThe UK’s advertising watchdog has found fault with Paddy Power’s Wesley Snipes references, while dismissing allegations of social irresponsibility against Bet365.

On Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) released rulings on a number of complaints against gambling industry marketing efforts, although thankfully none of them as embarrassing as last week’s epic fail of affiliate advertorial.

The first case involved Paddy Power’s promo for last month’s Floyd Mayweather Jr. v. Conor McGregor boxing match. Two newspaper ads proclaimed the company’s decision to pay out early on Mayweather bets, using the tag “Always Bet on Black.”

The ads received nine complaints by readers upset over what they perceived as references to Mayweather’s race, and thus they believed the ad was capable of causing serious or widespread offence.

Paddy Power freely admitted that the ad copy made reference to Mayweather’s race but denied any attempts to cause offence. The tagline was a well-known quote by black actor Wesley Snipes in the 1992 film Passenger 57, which Paddy Power expected readers to understand.

The Paddsters also said that Mayweather himself had approved the campaign and “found the line funny, rather than offensive or derogatory.” In fact, the underwear Mayweather wore at the pre-fight weigh-in (pictured) was embroidered with the same slogan and Mayweather posted an image of himself wearing these skivvies on social media, which he wasn’t required to do as part of his deal with the betting company.

The ASA sided with the complainants, acknowledging that Paddy Power didn’t intend any offense but questioning whether all readers would understand that the tagline was a movie quote. The ASA also noted that the fight was between members of two different races, and thus the invitation to always bet on a black boxer over a white one was likely to cause serious offence.

In the second case, a complainant took issue with a Bet365 TV spot featuring four different individuals using the company’s live-streaming features in four different locales, while pitchman Ray Winstone intoned that “not a single moment goes by when I cannot immerse myself entirely in sport.”

The complainant felt that the TV spot, which appeared in June, encouraged excessive gambling, despite the fact that there was no visual indication of any bets being placed, and the only verbal mentions of gambling came when Winstone announced that he is “a member of the world’s favorite online sports betting company and I gamble responsibly at bet365.”

The ASA rejected the complaint, saying the ad “did not portray or encourage gambling behavior that was socially irresponsible or portray gambling as indispensable or taking priority in life.”

In the final case, a Racing Post print ad by betting tipster outfit Isiris Racing Services was found to have made misleading and unsubstantiated claims regarding customers’ ability to win.

The ad claimed customers could “make a 4-figure profit or continue with us FREE until you do.” The ad also claimed that the service had been successful on “27 of 30 bets” it placed in the previous two months.

The ASA acknowledged that the ‘make a 4-figure profit’ claim was followed by the qualifier that punters would be allowed to continue to use the service until they hit enough winners, but said customers were likely to understand the claim as “an indicator of future performance” that wasn’t supported by any documentary evidence.

The ASA also determined that Isiris had made more than 30 bets in the specified time period, and one of their alleged ‘winning’ bets was actually a loser.

The ASA warned Isiris that future ad copy involving profit claims “must be based on odds that were achievable by most customers and needed to be substantiated” and that references to strike rates and bets placed must be backed by solid evidence.


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