The Advertisement Standards Authority has banned a Paddy Power commercial that showed a person choosing to gamble over going about their daily duties. The TV spot showed a young man who was playing the Wonder Wheel game on the website with his family present but him glued to the screen of a smartphone.
A Faux Pas in the Family Conversation
The man was offered a drink by a family member but he acknowledged it by simply looking at it and returning his stare to the screen where the action was. The voice-over then pitched in and dropped the first big line of the ad, saying:
With Paddy Power’s Wonder Wheel you get a free spin with a chance to win cash prizes every single dayPaddy Power banned ad
Then, the person’s partner tried to engage with him, asking him whether she would end up looking like their mother. “I hope so,” was the brief reply that jolted the man out of his enthrallment as he quickly realized that he had made an inappropriate comment.
Understandably, complaints weren’t far behind as ASA received two of them in which citizens complained that the person in the Paddy Power spot was so enraptured by his gambling experience that he began overlooking basic social interaction.
The complaints further asserted that gambling was displayed as taking priority over a human connection, for example, and was for this reason an irresponsible form of advertising. Furthermore, the complaints argued that using language such as “So, no matter how badly you stuff it up, you will always get another chance with Paddy Power Games.”
While this was a clear hint that you may fail in social interactions with serious repercussions, playing a game online usually does not have the same effect, even if you mess up. But the complaints argued somewhat justly that this was encouraging irresponsible gambling.
Gambling Takes Too Much Time and Attention
Paddy Power denied these accusations sternly and said that this is not the case since the Wonder Wheel game is a free-to-play option that is readily accessible by players in the UK and does not seek to elicit deposits.
ASA partially agreed with Paddy Power. In the opening arguments, the watchdog said it understood that the ad was light-hearted. It would be understood that most people watching the ad that the man was clearly distracted by gambling. In other words, the man would not have made these comments had he not been so enrapt with the action on the screen:
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.ASA
ASA could not in good faith allow the ad to continue, though, as it agreed in the base premise that the spot displayed gambling as taking priority over ordinary life and that this was irresponsible. Paddy Power noted the regulator’s ruling on the Wonder Wheel TV advert and confirmed that the company’s intention is to always comply with the Advertising Codes. Paddy Power has accepted the regulator’s verdict.