Paddy Power's 'distasteful' Liverpool FC poster escapes ASA ban

Controversial betting shop Paddy Power has escaped a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over a poster campaign that critics claimed was offensive to people with disabilities.

The OOH poster, which appeared in January 2016, featured an image of a red wheelchair that had 'Property of L.F.C written on the back, pictured beside the strapline 'You'll Never Walk Alone (or ever again if you play for Klopp).

The wheelchair appeared in reference to the fact that Liverpool Football Club had been hitting the headlines because 13 of its players were deemed unfit to play as a result of hamstring or leg injuries; something sports commentators put down to the intensive training techniques used by the club's recently-appointed manager, Jurgen Klopp.

While Paddy Power conceded that the ad was "distasteful" the company said it believed the billboard was not offensive as it didn't make fun of a disability.

The ASA agreed, stating that the fact the ad was placed in Liverpool meant that those targeted were "likely to have some understanding of the context." The watchdog said that the reference to the club's supporters' anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone', could be "immediately connected" to ‘playing for Klopp'.

It added that the text on the wheelchair emphasised that it was specifically for those at the football club and that LFC players and their injuries, rather than those with a disability, were the target of the humour.

"We considered that although the ad may be seen as distasteful by some, it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence," the ASA concluded.

This was not Paddy Power's first brush with the regulator, the firm took the top spot in the most complained about ads in 2014 for it's now-banned Oscar Pisctorius ad which offered incentives to bet on the outcome of the athlete's murder trial.

This week, the authority issued a ban on a tweet sent out by bet-at-home.com which it said "linked gambling to sexual success."

The tweet (above) was found to be in breach of the watchdog's code, despite the company's defense that the ad was "not intended for a UK audience".

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