Paddy Power defends ‘real-life example of stuffing up’ ad against ASA complaints

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld two complaints against a Paddy Power TV advert for depicting ‘socially irresponsible’ gambling. 

In particular, the Flutter Entertainment brand was accused by complainants of portraying gambling as taking priority over family life for showing ‘someone so occupied by gambling that they made an inappropriate remark in conversation’. 

The commercial in question featured a young man using his phone to gamble on Paddy Power’s ‘Wonder Wheel’ game in a living room whilst his partner’s family were present, with the individual in question maintaining usage of his phone throughout.

He was then asked by his partner ‘do you think I will end up looking like my Mum?’ to which he replied ‘I hope so’ while looking at his phone before appearing to realise his mistake.

Furthermore, the ASA also questioned if this same comment encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible.

Paddy Power asserted that the ad implied a commitment to family life by portraying the scene of a traditional family setting, adding that the individual was aware of his surroundings and acknowledged those around him several times.

Complainants also asserted that the ad encouraged repeated gambling in the face of a loss, specifically questioning the line “so no matter how badly you stuff it up, you’ll always get another chance with Paddy Power games” as encouraging repeated gambling.

In response to this accusation, Paddy power did not believe the aforementioned line encouraged repeated gambling in the face of a loss.

“They said the line should be considered in the context of the ad as a whole, where it referred to the fact that the young man had ‘stuffed up’ by making a comment to his girlfriend about her mother,” the ASA reported. 

“They said the line directly referenced a real-life example of stuffing up and did not refer to losing a bet.”

The Authority continued: “They said the ad referenced the fact customers could have one free spin a day on the Wonder Wheel game. They said if a user did not win with their free spin, they would get another chance to win with a free spin the next day. 

“They believed the ad did not promote socially irresponsible gambling, because it was not advertising a paid-for gambling game, merely a free game where players have one spin in any period of 24 hours. They said the ad made no inducements to gamble frequently or excessively, nor did it depict anyone doing so.”

In its assessment, the ASA concluded that the ad portrayed gambling as taking priority in life over family due to a distraction causing an “embarrassing gaffe”.

In addition, the statement ‘you’ll always get another chance with Paddy Power games’ in conjunction with ‘so no matter how badly you stuff it up’ were judged as “likely to encourage gambling behaviour that was harmful”.

The ads must not appear again in their current form, with the group also told to ensure that future ads do not portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life, or portray, condone or encourage behaviour that is socially irresponsible.

Despite upholding the complaints against the TV commercial, the ASA rejected issues raised against two of the brand’s radio offerings for not causing serious or widespread offence.

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