Complaints that Paddy Power ad is ‘offensive and sexist to men’ are rejected by ASAI

Standards authority does not uphold objections to advertisement starring Peter Crouch

A number of complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) in relation to a Paddy Power television advertisement featuring former soccer player Peter Crouch and his wife, which complainants claimed was "offensive and sexist to men". None of the complaints were upheld by the ASAI.

The Paddy Power advertisement for the Cheltenham racing festival showed Crouch and his wife Abbey Clancy at home getting ready for "a day at the races" while racing pundits commented on him using racing slang.

In one scene the former England player's wife throws a pair of underpants at him while a racing pundit says Crouch is "definitely punching" while another commentator says that Crouch "hasn't got the most attractive head, he's a leggy sort, with a robotic stride, but he has an impressive turn of foot for his size".

The second pundit later goes on to say Crouch would be "unlikely to be wanted for breeding", while the ad subsequently features Irish former jockey Ruby Walsh saying that "even the Irish would back this English banker".

The ASAI said it received nine complaints in relation to the advertisement – none of which were upheld. It said that one complaint said the advertisement was making gambling “seem as if it was a part of normal life and that it was putting humour into gambling, making it seem to be fun”.

“Several complainants objected to the advertising on the grounds that it was offensive and sexist to men,” the ASAI said in its latest bulletin on Friday.

“The complainants objected to the comparison of the man to a racehorse and to the woman throwing a pair of underpants at him, which they considered was demeaning and sexist to men.

“Several complainants also referred to the commentary in the advertisement [in relation] to the man’s ability to breed and said that if this comment had been made in regard to a woman it would be considered inappropriate and lacking sensitivity.”

‘Suggestive and derogatory’

Complainants also objected to the use of the word “banker” in the advertisement on the grounds that they considered it offensive “as it was suggestive and was being used in a derogatory way”.

“One complainant considered that the term was implying that Irish people were stupid and racist, while another considered that it was racist to English people,” the ASAI added.

Paddy Power said it sought to promote advertising campaigns that are “daring, sharp-witted and on-the-ball” as these are its brand pillars.

Paddy Power believed that it could be said that the public in Ireland and Britain recognised that its marketing campaigns contain a humorous and mischievous element, according to the ASAI.

“They said that it was never their intention to cause offence with the advertisement and they regretted if offence was caused to the complainants in this instance,” the ASAI said.

“However, they did not believe that offence was a rational response to the advertisement, nor do they believe that the advertisement was racist, sexist, socially irresponsible or that it was of particular appeal to children or that it made gambling appear to be a normal part of life.”

‘Tongue-in-cheek manner’

The ASAI’s complaints committee said that while it appreciated the concerns raised by the complainants, it considered the content of the advertisement had been “set in a tongue-in-cheek manner, with the main character clearly being in on the ‘joke’”.

“Taking account of the delivery, style and tone of the advertisement, the committee did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the [ASAI] code on the grounds raised by the complainants,” it said.

The committee also did not consider that the word “banker” was being used in a derogatory sense but instead “to refer to the character as being the ‘favourite’”.