A controversial advertising campaign promoting betting on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial has now been BANNED after the Advertising Standards Agency received over 5,000 complaints and over 120,000 signatures were added to an online petition for it to be pulled. Women’s rights groups and those who support victims of violence have also spoken out against the advertisement and the connotations it makes.
The campaign by Paddy Power, accompanied by a typically blunt image and provocative text (right) links the murder trial of the South African athlete to the Academy Awards on Sunday night was accompanied by a blog, which read, “Global media attention, bar-stool conversation and pillow talk will shift from the Oscars on Sunday night to Oscar on Monday when the Blade Runner straps on his prosthetic limbs for the long walk to the high court’.
Within hours of publication on Sunday, the campaign went viral on social media sites, with many Twitter users branding it ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting’. Yet despite the calls for it to be removed, Paddy Power remained firm, responding that ‘People are entitled to complain about our marketing if they don’t like it.’ Many already have done just that and a change.org petition urging British MPs to put pressure on the firm to pull the ad has already gathered over 120,000 signatures.
Aware that given “the rolling coverage of this trial, everyone will be openly talking about it and speculating on the verdict” the firm is not shying away from the campaign. It is even offering a refund to punters if the athlete is found not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
There is no question that this contrversial opportunism has given Paddy Power a great deal of attention, but whether that attention is welcome is yet to be seen. Like so many viral campaigns, social media is giving it the life it needs to survive (and succeed) regardless of whether the sentiment is agreed with or not.