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A watchdog group claims that an advertisement from Irish bookmaker Paddy Power which ran during the 2019 Six Nations rugby tournament broke marketing industry standards.

After Paddy Power published an ad in the Irish Times and Irish Star in early February, six complaints were filed with the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI). Also, the campaign was used on the company’s social media accounts.

The advertisement read, “Dear England, Sorry for the last two years of pain, suffering and humiliation. Another 798 and we’ll be even.”

The ASAI said the six complaints considered it to be “racist, offensive, anti-English in sentiment, stirring up anti-English feelings, and was both highly insensitive and bigoted towards English people.”

The ASAI agreed this week. The watchdog agency supported the complaints, saying the advertisement’s text “we’ll be even” was expected to cause offense.

About Paddy Power’s content, ASAI said it “was neither prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society, nor responsive to the diversity in Irish society.”

UK vs. Ireland

Paddy Power said the marketing spot was only in joke, and was a funny opinion on England’s recent poor play in rugby against Ireland over the last two years. The ad referenced the “publicly debated English misfortunes since the Brexit referendum,” added Paddy.

The UK voted by a slim majority in June 2016 to exit the European Union. The Republic of Ireland is not part of the UK, but its northern neighbor, Northern Island, is. The “another 798” refers to Ireland’s alleged 800 years of suppression under British rule.

As mentioned on the website Casino.org, Paddy claimed the ad was just satire and based on the friendly sporting competition between the two countries. The bookmaker said the spot was usually well-received, and the six complaints shouldn’t undermine the majority of opinions.

Nevertheless, the ASAI thought otherwise. However, as the marketing was a one-off matter, no further action was needed and the issue was closed.

Surely Not Paddy’s Worst

Paddy Power is known for ruffling feathers, and has certainly offended many at times. Since 2014, the bookmaker has had seven complaints upheld by the ASAI.

The ASAI received 400 complaints for a Paddy Power ad In 2010, which showed visually-impaired footballers kicking a cat.

Paddy’s worst moment, in the eyes of many – especially Americans – came in November 2008, after Barack Obama was elected president of the United States. The bookmaker offered odds on the president being assassinated in his first term.

Paddy Power removed the line just a day after Obama won the election following widespread criticism. At the time Rival bookmaker William Hill said, “We have no interest whatsoever in betting on the possible death or serious injury of any politician … and cannot imagine why any reputable bookmaker would even consider taking such a bet or any punter contemplate placing one.”

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, Paddy published an advertisement which read, “Orange is the New Black?” with a picture of Donald Trump with 3/1 odds to replace Obama.

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