A MARKETING campaign that took advantage of the immigrant crisis in Calais has landed Paddy Power in trouble with advertising watchdogs in Ireland.
The controversial Irish bookmakers will be severely censured for causing offence with the stunt that it described at the time as “a bit of fun”.
Several complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) following the advertising campaign in July, the Guardian reports.
During the summer amidst news of refugees attempting to cross the English Channel, often risking their lives, Paddy Power sent a lorry from Dover to Calais with the slogan:
“Immigrants, jump in the back! (but only if you’re good at sport).”
The billboard also featured the images of sports stars including: Irish-born cricketer Eoin Morgan, who plays for England, Jamaican-born England footballer Raheem Sterling, Olympian Mo Farah, originally from Somalia, Samoa-born rugby player Manu Tuilagi and Scottish-born Andy Murray.
Spotted at Dover this morning... pic.twitter.com/3RCTQp7mdl
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) July 2, 2015
A Paddy Power spokesman said: “We did not design the ad to cause offence or to be insulting to immigrants, rather we were simply referencing a long-running joke regarding Andy Murray’s nationality and it was just that – a joke. We regret any offence that was taken by the complainants.”
In a draft ruling from the ASAI, Paddy Power have been found to be in breach of three guidelines in relation to offence and diversity.
The report stated that Paddy Power defended the move on the grounds it was aimed to be “edgy, humorous and engaging”.
It added that as it was promoted primarily on social media so the targeted audience would understand the “mischief” intended.
The report concluded: “In this case the committee accepted that while the majority of Paddy Power followers on Social Media and Twitter would probably be aware of their ‘edgy’ sense of humour that it was nevertheless inappropriate for advertisers to refer to vulnerable groups, in a manner that highlighted their current high profile difficulties, in marketing communications merely to attract attention.”