Oscar Pistorius Paddy Power ad banned after bringing advertising ‘into disrepute’

Bookmaker Paddy Power has had its controversial Oscar Pistorious advert banned after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it brought advertising “into disrepute”.

The ad, which encouraged readers to vote on the outcome of his murder trial, received a record 5,525 complaints when it appeared in The Sun on Sunday.

The ruling comes after the ASA ordered Paddy Power to remove the ad earlier this month, after citing "exceptional circumstances" for fast-tracking its usual investigation process.

The campaign offered to “refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorious trial if he is found not guilty”. It also included an image similar to an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete.

Complainants said they believed the ad was insensitive by trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial.

Paddy Power defended the advert and said it “strongly believed the ad did not cause serious or widespread offence,” and that it was a one off with no plans to repeat it. It added that the lack of direct reference to the death of Pistorious’ girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp emphasised it was not intended to cause offence.

Paddy Power acknowledged that its marketing was known for being mischievous and pushing the boundaries, but that it did not seek to offend audiences.

The ASA said: “We considered that by making reference to a high profile murder trial, the ad would be interpreted by readers as being inextricably related to the sensitive issues surrounding the trial, and to be making an implied reference to the person who had died.”

It added that the advert brought the advertising industry into disrepute.

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