A TV ad for Paddy Power Rewards, seen in February 2019, featured Rhodri Giggs (brother of former footballer and now manager Ryan Giggs) speaking to camera, saying he had “[A]lways lived a loyal life” by drinking in the same pub, going to the same gym, etc. Shown in a pub, a woman behind the bar asked, "Bitter?" He replied, "Not anymore, Pam, Champagne please." He then said, "Problem is, loyalty gets you nowhere. Live for rewards instead. That's why I'm Paddy's Rewards Club Ambassador." He was then shown driving off in a sports car saying "Thanks Paddy" as he patted the bodywork.
On-screen text stated "Qualify for weekly free bets for online Sports, online Games and in our shops with Paddy's Rewards Club. Full T&Cs at [website address]".
Five complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible by glamourising gambling and suggesting it was a way of achieving a good standard of living.
Power Leisure Bookmakers Ltd t/a Paddy Power said the ad featured Rhodri Giggs, the brother of retired footballer Ryan Giggs, describing how he had led a normal but loyal life, including by drinking in the same pub, going to the same gym, supporting the national football team and using the same brand of tea bags. They said only the car in which Rhodri drove away at the end of the ad could be considered special or glamourous. None of the activities shown involved gambling and betting was not mentioned once.
Paddy Power explained that, although the ad was about loyalty, the twist came with the line “loyalty gets you nowhere, live for rewards instead”. That was immediately followed by an explanation that Rhodri had been appointed as a brand ambassador for Paddy Power. When Rhodri explained he had been given that role, he tapped the side of the car he was sitting in and said, “Thanks Paddy”. That was intended to indicate that he had received the car (or could make use of the car) because of his role as a brand ambassador. They believed that message was reinforced by the bumper sticker on the back of the car, which clearly read “Ambassador Car”, and that there was no suggestion he had acquired the car because of his gambling, or from betting with Paddy Power.
Clearcast said the ad was for the Paddy Power Rewards Club. There was no suggestion in the ad that people should gamble either a huge amount or in any way irresponsibly. No stake was mentioned to get into the Rewards Club, and no money was mentioned at all. They added that Rhodri’s self-image was not improved as he was shown not being very good at football and speaking about his ordinary life, doing the same everyday activities that many people did. They believed that if he gained any recognition or admiration from viewers for having a big car and drinking champagne, it was sufficiently clear that those benefits had come from being Paddy Power’s brand ambassador, not through gambling.
The ASA considered that it was clear from the opening scene in which the main character provided his surname in a phone call to his bank before clarifying “No, Rhodri” that he was the brother of Ryan Giggs. Most viewers would be aware of Ryan Giggs and the allegations that he had an affair with his brother’s wife, and there were numerous allusions to that episode throughout the ad, including the exchange with the barmaid in which she asks “Bitter?” and he replies “Not any more, Pam”, his wry smile when the Welsh national football team (coached by Ryan Giggs) lose a game of football, his suspicious response when the woman he appeared to be living with said she needed to go to the shops and his response to his boxing coach who encouraged him to think of someone who made him angry. We considered viewers would understand that the ad’s humour derived from what went unsaid – that Rhodri had not been chosen as brand ambassador for Paddy Power’s Rewards Club because he was well known for being loyal, but because his brother was associated with being disloyal.
In that context, and in the absence of any references to gambling, we considered consumers would understand that the life Rhodri was shown enjoying was not the result of his gambling. Nevertheless, in the opening scene he was shown calling the bank to enquire about his bank balance, in the bar he indicated he did not want his usual pint of bitter and instead ordered champagne, and in the closing scene he was shown driving off in a luxury car which he had received as a result of his association with Paddy Power. In the closing sequence he stated, “… loyalty gets you nowhere, live for rewards instead” before the voice-over and on-screen text stated “Loyalty is dead, live for rewards”. We considered that created the impression that Rhodri was no longer defined by the alleged affair and that he had moved past his “loyalty” and was now reaping the rewards, both financially and in terms of his own self-image. The ad implied viewers should follow his example, and that their route to doing so was joining Paddy Power’s Rewards Club. For that reason, we considered the ad implied gambling was a way to achieve financial security and improved self-image, and we concluded the ad was irresponsible.
The ad breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society.
(Responsible advertising) and
suggest that gambling can be a solution to financial concerns, an alternative to employment or a way to achieve financial security
and 17.3.6 17.3.6 suggest that gambling can enhance personal qualities; for example, that it can improve self-image or self-esteem, or is a way to gain control, superiority, recognition or admiration
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Power Leisure Bookmakers Ltd t/a Paddy Power to ensure in future that they did not state or imply that gambling was a way to achieve financial security or improve self-image or self-esteem.