The gambling firm is promoting a “money back if he walks” offer for bets on the outcome of the athlete’s trial, which starts today (3 March). The advert is running in newspapers and features Pistorius mocked up as an Academy Award statue with the slogan “It’s Oscar Time”.
The activity continues Paddy Power’s attempts to hijack the public interest in the South African’s trial that has already seen it offering odds of 7/4 that he will be found guilty of Steenkamp’s murder last year.
It has prompted a wave of public anger slamming the bookie’s decision to encourage people to have a flutter on a women’s death to further its own means. The Advertising Standards Authority has received 12 complaints about the print ad so far.
Additionally, a petition on Change.org, backed by labour MP Tom Watson (see below), has been launched for Paddy Power to pull the ad and donate to charities fighting domestic violence. It already has around 500 signatories.
Pistorius is accused of the pre-mediated murder of his girlfriend after he shot and killed Steenkamp last year. He has already admitted firing the shots, but claims he mistook her for a burglar.
Pistorius is one of global sport’s most recognised stars and was the first Paralympic athlete to compete against able-bodied athletes. The fallout from the murder case, however, has seen his brand value plummet with sponsors Nike and Oakley cutting their ties.
Paddy Power has a history of running controversial marketing stunts to promote their deals. Most recently, it sponsored former US basketball player Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea for Kim Jong-un’s birthday.
Paddy Power was unable to provide a response by the time this article was published.