Operators Paddy Power and InterCasino have become the first gambling companies to have campaigns banned by the advertising watchdog since laws were relaxed last September.
The Advertising Standards Authority has banned four TV ads by InterCasino and a national press ad by Paddy Power for breaching its new code on advertising by gambling companies.
The code, introduced on September 1 following the relaxation of ad rules under the Gambling Act 2005, allows gambling companies to advertise more freely in print media as well as on TV for the first time after the 9 pm watershed or around televised sporting events.
Paddy Power press ad: banned by ASA Paddy Power ran a national press ad in the Times showing a dwarf in a limousine flanked by two beautiful women, smoking a cigar and holding up a champagne glass. The ad ran with the strapline „Who says you can’t make money being short?“.
The series of TV ads by InterCasino also, coincidentally, feature dwarves who get involved in Jackass-style antics such as rolling down hills in dice outfits and sliding down bell-ropes dressed as fruit-machine cherries. The ASA argued that the Paddy Power ad broke the advertising code by linking gambling with sexual success and an improved self-image.
It also said that the juvenile behaviour in the InterCasino ads breached the code by appealing to children or young people. Paddy Power said the ad was meant to re-enact a famous scene from the 1980s film Wall Street, featuring Michael Douglas as avaricious banker Gordon Gekko, but agreed to withdraw the ad from UK media in light of the ASA’s decision.
InterCasino defended its ads as „gentle slapstick humour reminiscent of old-fashioned routines by Charlie Chaplin or Benny Hill“ and said they were not designed to appeal to young people. The ASA countered that the Japanese-style voiceover was similar to that used in shows such as Banzai, the Channel 4 show that appealed mainly to young people.