The UK’s advertising standards authority has released its list of the most complained- about adverts – and topping the list is a controversial campaign run by Irish betting group, Paddy Power, relating to the Oscar Pistorius trial.
BusinessTech first reported on the advert when it ran in March 2014 and first drew criticism from UK residents.
At the time, an online petition, signed by over 100,000 people, called for the advert to be removed.
In the advert (pictured below), Paddy Power said it would refund all losing bets if Pistorius was acquitted. The odds were 7/4 that the athlete would be jailed, and 2/5 that he would “walk”.
The advert is a play on the name given to The Academy Awards, commonly known as The Oscars, and the first name of the Paralympic gold medal winner.
According to the ASA, the advert drew 5,525 official complaints in 2014, the highest number of objections ever received in Britain.
The second most complained about advert (a booking.com ad) only drew 1,768, in comparison.
In an ASA ruling in April 2014, Paddy Power was ordered to take down the ad, and not use it again in any media.
The authority ruled that the advert had made light of murder and domestic violence, as the wagers were tied directly to the subject matter of the Pistorius trial.
Paddy Power argued, however, that it did not believe the advert breached the Code under any of the grounds cited or the complaints raised.
It did not cause grave or widespread offence on the grounds that it trivialised murder, death or violence, it argued. Nor did it make any reference to gender-related matters, or cause offence on the grounds of disability.
The advertisers said that the advert should be considered on its merits.
“The Ad must be viewed for what it was: a market on a trial in South Africa on which many people in Ireland seem to be interested and to have an opinion,” Paddy Power said.
Pistorius received a five year prison sentence in October after being convicted of culpable homicide for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day 2013.