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Oh, Paddy Power - a step too far?

2017-09-04 15:30:05

Paddy Power is well-known for its risky publicity stunts. Only last week, we reported on the gambling giant projecting an image of the Virgin Mary lifting Sam Maguire onto Knock Basilica. Those that are less familiar with Ireland and its sporting scene. The Sam Maguire is a sports cup and Knock is a village and religious shire in the West of Ireland. Ever since the topic has been discussed on national radio with some arguing that Paddy Power has crossed a line. Could it get any better or worse for Paddy Power?

Let's forget about religion

Most people can smile at this publicity stunt. Quite clearly, it achieved its goal. Paddy Power is the talk of the town.

On 23 August, Paddy Power tweeted a picture of Floyd Mayweather, the boxer due to take on Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor. The picture showed a triumphant Floyd Mayweather, surrounded by dollar bills. Next to the image, the advert read "Always bet on black. We've paid out early on a Mayweather victory. Because we checked only one of them is a boxer."

The latter part of the Paddy Power ad was received largely positive. After all, it's true. However "Always bet on black." didn't go down too well with large parts of its Twitter audience.
"I have to say, as much as I love you Paddy Power, that has racism written all over it," one Twitter follower commented.

Paddy Power reacts

In light of the ever-growing criticism, Paddy Power issued a statement. The gambling giant noted that the quote had been misunderstood. The quote was related to a classic movie line, namely Passenger 57.
“Like Wesley Snipes – who famously delivered the line – Floyd Mayweather is rightfully proud of his identity and, while the advert does reference his race, it does so in a manner which isn’t in any way derogatory or insulting," commented the Paddy Power spokesperson.
“It’s also a betting-related pun which references a roulette wheel. Because we’re about gambling – get it? If people don’t like it that’s entirely their prerogative," further outlined the spokesperson.

What do we make out of this story?

The question of whether or not Paddy Power went too far in its latest advert is complicated. Paddy Power's spokesperson is arguing that while the ad makes reference to his race, the ad isn't racist, simply because the ad delivers a positive message.

This isn't wrong per se: after all, to ignore someone's skin colour simply for fear of offending, inadvertently creates the idea that this is something not to speak about. It stigmatises the concept of being black. Of course, the opposite, to highlight someone's skin colour as a feature of their person, helps to strengthen the idea that this in some way matters - which it doesn't.

In sum though, the joke's on those that take to Twitter to criticise Paddy Power. Paddy Power's marketing department lives off the publicity it's somewhat risky but also amusing advertising creates. One thing is for sure: Paddy Power certainly belongs to each and every marketing textbook.

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