Paddy Power is renowned for their controversial betting odds offered on everything from sports matches to betting on the name of the Royal baby as well as the ad campaigns that accompany these odds. Their latest campaign however is nothing short of tasteless, sparking outrage and backlash across the globe by making light of the current Oscar Pistorius murder trial which involves the death of Reeva Steenkamp.
The copy of the advert (pictured here) reads “It’s Oscar Time. Money Back if He Walks. We will Refund All Losing Bets on the Oscar Pistorius Trial if he is found not guilty“.
Accompanying the text is a mock-up of the Para Olympian’s head on top of the Academy Award statue presented to winners of the recently held Oscar Awards.
To date more than 110,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the offensive advert to be withdrawn. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority investigated the matter after receiving more than 5,200 complaints, making it the most complained about advert in UK history.
Paddy Power had already come under fire with the launch of its trial outcome odds with 7:4 for a guilty verdict and 2:5 for a not guilty verdict which were slammed as “vile” and “disgusting” by social media users. Tom Watson, MP of the English Labour Party added his voice to the issues tweeting that Reeva Steenkamp’s death is not a sport.
In spite of public outrage, according to a company spokesperson Paddy Power had no intention of removing the controversial advert adding that the trial was just a high profile media event and that Paddy Power was giving people the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.
Jean Hatchett, the woman who started the petition has accused Paddy Power of making light violence against women and insists that this is not something that should be seen as a sport.
In spite of putting up a fight, Paddy Power has been ordered by the ASA to remove the controversial advert with immediate effect even before it’s full official investigation is complete but whether the odds are withdrawn still remains to be seen.
What Paddy Power seems to forget is that Reeva Steenkamp was June and Barry Steenkamp’s daughter, and a friend to many people. She was a young, beautiful woman whose star was on the rise and her life with all its potential was cut tragically short. This is definitely not something that should be taken lightly.
It’s this kind of conduct that gives the gambling industry a bad name and we hope to see these odds removed from the Paddy Power spread immediately.