Paddy Power rapped by ASA over TV ad

By Robert Simmons
UK and Ireland bookmaker Paddy Power has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to stop the broadcast of a television advert which implies that it is socially acceptable to gamble in the workplace.

A total of two complaints were received about the advertisement in which a casino security guard sings along to the song “Papa Loves Mambo” using the lyrics: “Watching ‘em gamble from a sneaky camera angle. Yeah, look at ‘em play on it; spinning away on it, they’re rubbing my face in it now. Still I can’t grumble. I’ll have a cheeky little dabble. Yeah I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break, the daily jackpot’s looking great now.”

In its defence Paddy Power claimed that they did not believe they had breached the BCAP, highlighting rule 17.4.3 which states that “Advertisements for gambling must not condone or feature gambling in a working environment (an exception exists for licensed gambling premises).”

Since the casino was a licensed gambling premises, Paddy Power believed that the exception applied. In addition Paddy Power claimed that the line ‘I’ll have a cheeky little dabble. Yeah I’ll have a spin on it, when I’m on break’ was deliberately included to illustrate that the security guard did not gamble irresponsibly and only did so when he was on a permitted break from work.

To doublecheck the acceptability of their advert, Paddy Power also engaged the services of media clearance agency Clearcast, who advised both the production company and Paddy Power to include a clear distinction in when the security guard was seen to be gambling.

In its ruling the ASA noted the view that because Code rule 17.4.3 stated that “an exception exists for licensed gambling premises” and the casino featured in the ad was a licensed gambling premises, it was therefore acceptable that the ad featured the character gambling in his working environment.

However, it considered the purpose of the rule was to prevent ads normalising or condoning gambling in working environments and since the casino was a working environment for the security guard, the ASA deemed the spirit of the exception did not apply and as such it was a socially irresponsible advertisement.

As a result of this the ASA have stated that Paddy Power must not broadcast the advertisement again and have told Paddy Power that any future advertisements must not feature gambling within a working environment.


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