Bookmaker Paddy Power has stirred up a controversy with the release of a new TV advert shown on Sky Sports that some trans groups say is offensive.
LGBT Lib Dems Northern Ireland said Paddy Power has brought shame on itself and that the
marketing tactic was in poor taste at a time when the UK government is trying to wipe out all forms of prejudice in sport.
The Irish bookmaker is well known for their edgy Television campaigns. Now ahead of the upcoming 2012 Cheltenham Festival,
Paddy Power has launched a new advert which focuses on Ladies' Day at the Cheltenham horse racing festival. It is thought that the initial reaction to the ad will lead to another referral to the advertising censors of the ASA.
The advert had been
cleared with Clear Cast, a body funded by the broadcasters that checks adverts against ASA rules on their behalf. Paddy Power had also consulted with a leading transgender organisation before putting the ad together.
that the ASA will be discussing the advert in the coming days as a result of complaints.
In the advert, the commentator references a Facebook post made by a fan, saying they can't wait to see some beauties at Ladies' Day . The Irish firm
claim to agree, but make things interesting by sending in some trans ladies . They then ask the viewers to spot the Stallions from the Mares . The tongue in cheek video then shows a number of different ladies, some of whom are women, and
some not, obviously added for effect by the producers.
The firm advertised the advert on Cheltenham racing site CheltenhamFestival.net, with a number of readers who had watched the video expressing their opinions and stating that they had already
contacted the ASA.
Broadcasters Channel 4 and BSkyB are planning to continue airing Paddy Power's spot the trans lady advert in the face of fierce criticism.
The advert has been pulled by sports network ESPN but Channel 4 told the Guardian while it had a duty
to ensure broadcasts comply with advertising codes, but beyond that it was policy to leave it up to our viewers to make their own judgment about the adverts they have seen .
BSkyB reportedly has no intention of removing the adverts from its
The Guardian reported that nearly 500 complaints had been made to the Advertising Standards Authority and a spokesperson for broadcaster ESPN, which is owned by Disney, said it had reviewed the commercial in question, and have made
an internal editorial decision that it will not run on ESPN .
Paddy Power's Ladies Day commercial has been pulled from TV.
The decision to suspend the clip wasn't made by us -- it was done by the British TV advertising regulator along with television broadcasters.
This is especially frustrating given the commercial was already pre-approved by British television advertising clearance body Clearcast, just one week ago, who then considered the humour in the advert, while not to everyone's taste, fell short of causing offence.
Additionally, Paddy Power reached out to leading UK transgender group, The Beaumont Society, for feedback on the script.
The Beaumont Society said there was nothing untoward with the advert concept and felt it was not inappropriate since
the entire campaign would be a tongue-in-cheek look at the Ladies Day race meeting where these days a large number of cross dressers make a day of it .
Furthermore, Paddy Power cast members of the trans-community in the
various transgender roles in the commercial. Given the attention and diligence we demonstrated throughout the development of this commercial, we are very disappointed by today's decision.
Finally it is worth pointing out that the
commercial, which went live on YouTube less than one week ago, has almost 250,000 views with more likes than dislikes .
The next commercial in Paddy Power's We Hear You advertising campaign, CHAVS ,
will be broadcast on the company's YouTube channel shortly.
Controversy baiting bookmakers Paddy Power have released another YouTube video which is causing the intended stir.
Last week the firm's Lady's Day advert for the forthcoming Cheltenham Festival which featured transgender actresses was
TV censors suspended it from being broadcast in the UK and the latest video looks set for an internet only airing.
In the new advert a man is seen loading a tranquiliser dart gun at a horse racing meet. He proceeds to
shoot a variety of people not deemed appropriate for the Cheltenham Festival.
A Paddy Power spokesman said:
Shockingly, our last TV Ad has been banned after just four days on TV. That's some kind of record,
even for us. This commercial, dubbed 'Chavs', didn't even pass the powers that be so it will never be seen on TV.
One has to suspect that it was never actually shown to the TV 'powers that be'.
A TV ad for Paddy Power, seen in February 2012, had a voice-over which stated Ian Reed wrote on our Facebook wall 'Can't wait to see some beauties at Cheltenham Ladies Day' and showed the comment on their Facebook page. The ad then showed
various shots of Cheltenham racecourse while the voice-over stated We hear you Ian and we're going to make Ladies Day even more exciting by sending in some beautiful transgendered ladies! Spot the stallions from the mares! . The words Stallions
and Mares appeared on screen in large text and were shown to mate with each other. The voice-over then stated Here we go and the ad showed a series of brief shots of people at the event while the voice-over attempted to guess their
gender. Their actual gender was not given. In one scene a woman was shown holding a dog while the voice-over stated woman then hesitated while the shot changed to show a woman walking out of a men's toilet and stated dog, I mean, man . At
the end of the ad the voice-over stated And remember, all the runners, all the riders, right in the palm of your hand with Paddy Power Mobile. We hear you Ian Reed!
The ASA received 92 complaints:
The Kent Transgender Forum, LGBT Diversity and 90 other complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive.
The Kent Transgender Forum and LGBT Diversity and 24 other complainants challenged whether
the ad condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment.
Paddy Power plc (Paddy Power) said they sought to comply with the CAP and BCAP Codes and were mindful of the regulation around the betting and gaming industry. They said, because their customers were adults, the ad contained adult
humour directed to an adult audience.
Paddy Power said they took their responsibilities as an advertiser very seriously and had carefully considered the issues associated with the idea at the concept stage. They said, in following
what they considered to be best practice, they consulted the Beaumont Society, which they understood was the largest and longest established transgender support group in the UK. They said they had shared the script for the ad with the Beaumont Society
and worked with them and Clearcast to ensure the ad met with broadcasting and decency standards and argued that the ad had therefore been prepared responsibly.
Paddy Power said, at the time of responding, the ad was still on
YouTube and had attracted a large number of views and had been liked by the vast majority.
Clearcast said they worked very closely with the advertising agency prior to approving the ad to ensure that the treatment complied
fully with both the spirit and letter of the BCAP Code. They said, when the ad was first submitted they had expressed concerns about the offence that may be caused to members of the transgender community and had therefore directed Paddy Power to seek a
view from the Beaumont Society, whom the ASA had previously recognised as an appropriate place to seek advice on scripts concerning possible transgender related issues.
Clearcast said, whilst they acknowledged that the ad might
not be to everyone's personal taste, they also took into account the view received by the Beaumont Society, that the ad fell short of encouraging negative stereotypes of transgender people and women in general. They said, once the ad went to air, the
response from certain groups in the transgender community as well as viewers, made them uncomfortable with the advice which they had received. They said, given the level of discomfort that was expressed they consulted with the broadcasters and jointly
agreed that the clearance for the ad should be revoked.
ASA Assessment: Complaints Upheld
The ASA noted the response provided by Clearcast and that Paddy Power, at Clearcast's direction, had sought a view
on the concept and script from the Beaumont Society who were a national self-help body run by and for those who cross-dressed or were transsexual. The Beaumont Society explained that they had advised Paddy Power to use transgendered believing that
that phrase was not problematic, but that they now understood that some sections of the transgender community were offended by it. They provided a copy of the script on which they had advised and pointed out that it did not include the scene in which a
woman left a men's toilet and was referred to as a dog, and said they did not agree with its inclusion. They said, while the script they were provided with did make reference to stallions and mares , they were not happy with the manner in
which those terms were used in the finished ad, which they had not seen prior to broadcast. We noted that, following negative feedback, Clearcast had now revoked the clearance for the ad.
The ASA also sought advice from Trans
Media Watch whose specific area of work was the media portrayal of transgender issues and people.
We considered that the suggestion that trans people could be segregated into the gender
stereotypes stallions and mares as part of a guessing game, trivialised a complex and difficult issue and objectified them in a way that was likely to cause them serious offence.
We noted that, in one scene, a person
was shown holding a dog, while the voice-over hesitated, before saying dog , by which time the scene had changed to show a woman leaving a man's toilet. We considered that the suggestion that a trans woman would need to, or should, use a men's
toilet and the reference to a woman as a dog were also likely to cause serious offence to women generally and trans women specifically. We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence.
On this point the ad breached
BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence).
We considered for the reasons given in point 1 above, that the ad trivialised a highly complex issue and depicted a number of common negative stereotypes
about trans people. We considered that by suggesting that trans women would look like men in drag and that their gender could be speculated on as part of a game, the ad irresponsibly reinforced those negative stereotypes and, particularly by framing the
game in a way that involved a member of the public who had commented on Paddy Power's Facebook page, the ad condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment.
On this point the ad breached BCAP Code rules 1.2
(Social responsibility) and 4.8 (Harm and offence).
Children are as upset by violent videos on YouTube that feature animal cruelty or beheadings and by insensitive Facebook messages from divorced parents as they are by online bullying and pornography, according to the biggest survey of young British
people and their internet use.
The research will be unveiled by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) on Tuesday, Safer Internet Day, when a charter of rights and responsibilities for children online will also be launched.
survey, conducted for the council by academics, asked 24,000 children 25 questions about internet use, including have you ever seen anything online that has upset you? Hundreds of schools around Britain were enlisted to help canvass the children,
who were aged up to 16.
Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility at Plymouth University, who helped to devise the report, said:
Upset is caused by a broad range of issues, very varied, and not all sexual
content. One memorable answer from a primary school child who was asked what most upset him was when my Dad told me on Facebook he didn't want to see me any more.
Sonia Livingstone, professor of social psychology at the London School
of Economics, told the Oxford Media Convention last month that LSE research, which asked 8,000 children aged nine to 16 about the disturbing things they had seen on the internet, supported this picture. She added:
There is a lot of attention given to pornography and bullying on social media, but they also mentioned beheadings, flaying, cruelty to animals.
Accessing pornography online, the main concern of parents responding to a government consultation last autumn, did not feature highly in the teenagers' responses.