A TV ad for Paddy Power promoted a free bet offer for bets on Cheltenham horse races. The ad opened with a shot of the Paddy Power Twitter page. The voice-over stated “Ruby Walsh Tweeted” and then Ruby Walsh said, “I love Cheltenham more than Christmas” whilst a Tweet with the same words was seen on screen. The voice-over continued, “We hear you Ruby, you’re excited. We’ve gone Chelt-mental, and to prove it for Wednesday we’re giving you money back as a free bet if your horse finishes second to Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase. There’s some great jumpers in this race, like this beauty … or this one. And this one has never looked better”. The ad showed still and slow motion footage of horses and jockeys wearing woolly jumpers.
The complainant, who believed the ad would be of particular appeal to those under-18 years of age, challenged whether the ad breached the Code.
Paddy Power believed the ad complied fully with the Code and that it was not likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s. They said it did not feature any content or character of particular appeal to children including licensed characters or cartoon figures, or any content associated with youth culture. They did not believe the ad was too childish in its execution and said that the Christmas jumpers shown on the horses were associated with popular adult culture.
Clearcast said they did not consider the content contained anything beyond general appeal, and that if anything, the use of 1970s style continuity music and the old-fashioned style of the jumpers made this a pun which would be more likely to appeal to older audiences. There was nothing in the visuals that was particularly linked with youth culture or of appeal to children. They also said that regular viewers of horse racing would see this as a somewhat silly pun on 'jumpers', rather than as horses being dressed up purely for comic effect.
The BCAP Code stated that ads for gambling must not be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Gambling ads could not therefore appeal more strongly to under-18s than they did to over-18s.
Although the ad was jokey and surreal in style, including horses wearing jumpers, and therefore might be of general appeal, including to some children, it was clearly focused around betting on horses. It showed live-action footage of horses jumping fences and did not contain any content which either reflected or was associated with youth culture. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to be of particular appeal to those under-18 years of age and that it did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rule
be likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture
(Gambling), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.