Bookmaker is reprimanded over 'offensive' Pistorius ad
PADDY Power bookmakers has been reprimanded for making light of murder and domestic violence and trivialising the difficulties of amputees in its advertisements encouraging people to bet on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial in South Africa.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has upheld complaints about the controversial 'It's Oscar Time. Money back if he walks' ads run by Paddy Power.
The internet and newspaper ads showed an Oscar statuette with the face of the Olympic athlete superimposed and said it would refund losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he was found not guilty.
Pistorius is currently on trial in South Africa for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year. He admits killing her but claims he did so in the mistaken belief she was an intruder.
The ads provoked 65 complaints to the ASAI with many saying it was offensive to victims, their families and women and that it trivialised domestic violence and murder and was offensive to the disabled.
Some also objected to the fact that the advertisers were taking bets on the outcome of a trial at all.
Paddy Power denied causing widespread offence or gravely offending anyone and claimed the complaints were generated by about 10 individuals and fuelled by media coverage.
It said it was absurd to complain the ad was sexist or biased against women.
It conceded there was an element of adult humour in the "if he walks" line but said this was more subtle than some jokes made about Pistorius and did not cross the line into causing widespread offence by making light of disability. It said the company was a proud sponsor of Irish amputee football.
It had taken legal advice from a South African firm that it could offer odds in Ireland and Britain on the outcome of this case which was attracting huge public interest.
The ASAI upheld the complaints saying the ad "had been found to be offensive as it appeared to make light of murder and domestic violence" and "could be seen to trivialise the difficulties associated with disability including amputees".
It also upheld a complaint about Irish Rail advertising online fares of €9.99 after a customer said she was then charged a further €2 transaction fee and €1 credit card fee, representing a substantial 30pc increase in cost to €12.99.
The ASAI said the TV ad must not appear again in its current form as the additional fees should be referenced.
A complaint against Aer Lingus was also upheld after a customer found there were no fares at all available from Heathrow to Cork at the advertised promotional price of stg £55.99 (€65) in September and the cheapest was actually stg £73.99 (€90).
Aer Lingus said that an outbound price of stg£73.99 (€90) and an inbound price of stg£36.99 (€45) were available constituting an each-way fare of £55.99 (€65), but the ASAI said a customer would expect an "each-way" fare to be available on each separate leg .