The advertising watchdog has upheld its ban of a Paddy Power ad, which showed a punter prioritising betting over family life.
The TV ad showed a young man using his phone to gamble on Paddy Power’s ‘Wonder Wheel’ game in a living room whilst family were present. The young man briefly looked away from his screen to thank his partner’s mother for bringing him a drink, before he returned to looking at the game on his phone.
A voice-over said, “With Paddy Power’s Wonder Wheel you get a free spin with a chance to win cash prizes every single day”. The man’s partner asked him, “Do you think I will end up looking like my Mum?” He replied, “I hope so” while looking at his phone before appearing to realise what he had said was inappropriate.
Two complainants, who believed that the ads showed someone so occupied by gambling that they made an inappropriate remark in conversation, challenged whether they portrayed gambling as taking priority in life and were therefore irresponsible.
Paddy Power’s team defended the ad and said it “did not believe the line “So no matter how badly you stuff it up, you’ll always get another chance with Paddy Power games” encouraged repeated gambling in the face of a loss”.
Ad clearance firm Clearcast reiterated Paddy Power’s comments and emphasised that the ad was not promoting any paid-for gambling game but a free game where players had one spin per day.
In its judgment, The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) wrote: “We recognised the ad was light-hearted in tone but considered that most viewers would understand that the young man behaved in a way which was not appropriate at a family event because he was distracted by gambling.
“We considered that the girlfriend’s shocked expression in response to his answer supported the assumption that he would not ordinarily be so tactless in his communication.
Although we accepted it was a brief moment, because we considered most viewers would understand that distraction caused by gambling had caused an embarrassing gaffe at a family event, and therefore concluded that the ad portrayed gambling as taking priority in life over family”, the watchdog decided.
The ASA have said the ads must not appear again in their current form, urging Paddy Power to ensure that future ads did not portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life or show gambling as socially irresponsible.
Commenting on the decision, a Paddy Power spokesperson told City A.M.: “We note the ASA’s ruling on our ‘Wonder Wheel’ TV advert. Paddy Power is committed to responsible practice and it is always our intention to comply with the Advertising Codes. We accept the decision of the ASA and will consider its broader guidance moving forwards.”