Paddy Power has been rapped by the ASA for a “socially irresponsible” ad showing a security guard gambling at work.
The video, aired in August 2017, features a security guard singing to the tune of ‘Papa Loves Mambo’ while watching casino customers gambling.
He then turns away from the monitors and is shown gambling on Paddy Power via his smartphone as the song continues. The song includes the line “Yeah I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break, the daily jackpot’s looking great now”. The ad ends with the mobile displaying an on-screen text encouraging viewers to sign up to its online casino games.
The video was investigated after two complainants questioned whether the ad was socially irresponsible for implying it is acceptable to gamble in the workplace.
Paddy Power argued the ad was not irresponsible as it is advertising a gambling product in a casino. It also deliberately included a line explaining the security guard was on a break from work – he was shown eating a sandwich to illustrate this. The company also believed the tone of the ad did not encourage behaviour that was socially irresponsible and wouldn’t lead to financial, social or emotional harm.
The ASA disagreed, however, because while it’s acceptable to depict customers gambling in casinos, the licensed premises would still be considered a working environment for its staff. The ad also does not actively show the security guard leave his work station, giving the overall impression that he is still at work.
As ads should not normalise or condone gambling at work, Paddy Power’s ad has been banned for being socially irresponsible.
Crackdown on gambling ads
The government recently completed its review of the gambling industry, which will see the ASA issue new advertising guidance to help ensure “the content of gambling adverts does not encourage impulsive or socially irresponsible gambling”.
The regulator’s new chairman Lord David Currie previously raised concerns over the “unforeseen consequences” of legalising gambling ads on TV and radio 10 years ago.
Paddy Power’s is no stranger to controversy. It has been rapped by the ASA on several occasions, perhaps most notably for a 2015 ad during the trial of Oscar Pistorious for offering people “money back if he walks”.
The bookmaker was in trouble again in August for a “racist” ad promoting the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fight, which advised people to ‘Always Bet on Black’. At the time the ASA said it might have to start pre-vetting Paddy Power’s ads if the investigation into the ad is found to have caused serious or widespread offence.