We have today ordered that a national press ad for the bookmaker, Paddy Power be withdrawn with immediate effect. On the back of an unprecedented number of complaints, we are investigating whether the ad is offensive for trivialising the issues surrounding a murder trial, the death of a woman and disability; we are also challenging whether, in doing so, it brings the good reputation of advertising generally into disrepute.

Following the complaints, ASA Chairman, Lord Smith, has taken the unusual step of directing the advertiser to withdraw the ad from circulation pending the outcome of the investigation. In exceptional circumstances ASA procedures under the Advertising Code allow us to take interim action and have ads amended or withdrawn pending investigation.

The national press ad included an image of an Oscar statuette, which had the face of the athlete Oscar Pistorius. Text stated “IT’S OSCAR TIME”, “MONEY BACK IF HE WALKS” and “WE WILL REFUND ALL LOSING BETS ON THE OSCAR PISTORIUS TRIAL IF HE IS FOUND NOT GUILTY”.

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 ASA is not investigating complaints about the ad appearing on Paddy Power’s own website. The advertiser is based in Ireland and as a consequence the material on its website falls outside our remit.

The ad should remain out of circulation in all UK media until the investigation, which is being fast tracked, has been considered by the ASA Council and its decision is published on our website www.asa.org.uk. We welcome Paddy Power’s willingness to cooperate.

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