'People are entitled to complain about our marketing if they don’t like it,' says defiant Paddy Power as ASA launches Pistorius campaign investigation

Paddy Power is standing by its Oscar Pistorius ‘money back if he walks’ betting campaign despite the launch of a formal investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Complaints: The ASA has launched a formal investigation into the ad

The ASA has received 46 complaints since Paddy Power’s campaign launched on Sunday and a spokesman confirmed that the regulatory body was now investigating.

The bookmaker's latest campaign was unveiled in a blog post accompanied by an ‘It’s Oscar Time’ ad featuring a mock-up of double-amputee Pistorius as an Oscar award statue, with the promise to customers: ‘Money Back If He Walks’.

However, a spokesperson for Paddy Power told The Drum that the bookmaker would continue with the campaign.

“People are more than entitled to complain about our marketing if they don’t like it,” the spokesperson said. “We’re simply offering betting on the outcome of a trial – whether Pistorius is guilty or not guilty. Given the rolling coverage of this trial, everyone will be openly talking about it and speculating on the verdict.

“We stand by our decision to run both the ad and betting on the outcome of the trial.”

The trial of Oscar Pistorius, who shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on 14 February last year, began in South Africa on Monday. The former Olympian denies intentionally killing the 29 year old and says he mistook her for an intruder. The ad was criticised by women’s campaigners but Paddy Power said the advert was not intended to make fun of violence.

“We are not making any jokes or running any betting markets about domestic violence,” the Spokesman said, adding that while the print promotion had “run its course”, the betting offer would not be withdrawn.

“The ad campaign ran on Sunday, the eve of the trial, in selected press across Ireland and UK so the print promotion has run its course. Overall, we’re not planning to withdraw the Pistorius trial betting market.”

Nearly 110,000 people have signed an online petition asking Paddy Power to pull its “offensive betting” and donate any profits made so far to charities fighting violence against women.

Yesterday the ASA told The Drum that it had accrued 12 complaints "within hours" of the campaign going live.

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