Paddy Power’s controversial advertising style has overstepped the line according to advertising watchdogs who banned its lorry ads which made light of the immigrant crisis in Calais.
In July Paddy Power played on the wave of illegal immigrants jumping aboard lorries in order to enter the UK with lorry ads encouraging them to do so as long as they were good at sport.
The marketing stunt was in keeping with the Dublin-based company’s antagonistic advertising style however the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) banned the ad after receiving numerous complaints.
The Guardian has reportedly seen a draft ruling from the ASAI which said that Paddy Power breached three guidelines connected to offence and diversity including causing general offence; being offensive on grounds including race and the third guideline it broke related to sensitivity about diversity.
The bookmaker sent the lorry from Dover to the French port with the slogan “Immigrants, jump in the back! (but only if you’re good at sport).” It featured Jamaican-born England footballer Raheem Sterling, Mo Farah, originally from Somalia, Samoa-born rugby player Manu Tuilagi, England cricketer Eoin Morgan, who is from Ireland and Scottish tennis player Andy Murray.
Paddy Power defended the stunt on the grounds that it regularly ran campaigns that were “edgy, humorous and engaging” and that the way it was distributed, mainly via social media, meant the intended audience would be receptive to the “mischief” intended.
However the ASAI said that while many of the bookmaker’s social media followers would understand its sense of humour it “was nevertheless inappropriate for advertisers to refer to vulnerable groups, in a manner that highlighted their current high profile difficulties, in marketing communications merely to attract attention.”
In a statement to The Drum Paddy Power said it did not design the ad "to cause offence or to be insulting to immigrants, rather we were simply referencing a long running joke regarding Andy Murray’s nationality and it was just that – a joke. We regret any offence that was taken by the complainants".