Paddy Power Pistorius Ad Most Complained About
Paddy Power has been ordered to pull a controversial Oscar Pistorius advert after it became the most complained about in history.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) demanded the bookmaker withdraw the ad "with immediate effect" after it received an "unprecedented number of complaints".
The newspaper ad, which promised "money back" on bets if the athlete is found not guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp had drawn more than 5,200 complaints by Tuesday afternoon.
An ASA spokesman said: "We consider the ad may be seriously prejudicial to the general public on the ground of the likely further serious and/or widespread offence it may cause.
"We are also concerned that the good reputation of the advertising industry may be further damaged by continued publication of this ad."
The advertising watchdog said it was probing whether the ad was offensive for trivialising a murder trial, Ms Steenkamp's death and Pistorius' disability.
The ASA's powers under the Advertising Code allow it to have ads amended or withdrawn pending investigation - but only in exceptional circumstances.
The decision came after a change.org online petition demanding that Paddy Power withdraw the wager and donate any profits to a charity fighting violence against women drew more than 120,000 supporters.
The petition, addressed to Paddy Power's chief executive Patrick Kennedy, states: "Please consider the vast surge of public outrage against the terrible decision you have taken to offer bets upon the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial.
"(Reeva Steenkamp's) death is not and should never be a source of entertainment or profit... this is not something that should be seen as 'sport'...".
It says the company should donate any profits to women's charities.
Labour's Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Gloria De Piero said: "It's welcome news that the ASA have now called for these offensive ads to be withdrawn.
"Rather than making sport out of the death of a young woman it's time Paddy Power recognised the anger this campaign has caused, and stopped taking bets on this trial."
The ad coincided with the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles and the first day of Pistorius' trial in South Africa, where he formally pleaded not guilty to four charges including the murder of Ms Steenkamp.
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