Paddy Power has been censured by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after an investigation into the Irish bookmaker’s advertising in the lead up to the Floyd Mayweather versus Conon McGregor fight last month.
The ads, which we briefly covered in our look at how major betting brands approach social media, were placed in newspapers, online, and across Paddy Power’s social channels. The ASA investigation focused solely on a press ad, which appeared in the Evening Standard and the Metro, that featured the headline ‘always bet on black’ alongside a picture of Mayweather – who Paddy Power was surprisingly supporting over its home countryman, McGregor.
The racial undertones of the controversial campaign’s tagline led to nine complaints from the public, and has led to the ASA’s decision that Paddy Power must remove all evidence of the ad, or face further sanctions. This was despite Mayweather the ad himself, and even donning a pair of Paddy Power boxers for his weigh-in that were plastered with the message.
“Our thinking was that it had a clear gambling connotation for a fight taking place in Las Vegas, and was an amusing nod to the cult film Passenger 57 and the line spoken by Wesley Snipes. The line ‘always bet on black’ was further parodied in a more recent movie, Lego Batman,” Paddy Power said in a statement, where the company doesn’t back down from its humorous, often controversial, tone. “The line was approved by Mayweather who saw it as a humorous dig at his rival before the fight. The wording was, in fact, branded onto Mayweather’s shorts for the weigh-in, at the request of the American fighter’s agents.
“Although disappointed with the outcome, Paddy Power accepts the findings of the ASA Council and we will take this decision on the chin. Like Conor did.”