Paddy Power ordered to pull Oscar Pistorius advert after record number of complaints

The controversial campaign has received more than 5,200 complaints

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The advertising watchdog has ordered Paddy Power to withdraw its Oscar Pistorius advert with "immediate effect" after becoming the most complained-about campaign ever.

The bookie's controversial "Oscar Time" advert offers money back if the South African athlete is acquitted of murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The advert featured an Oscar statuette with the face of Pistorius under the caption: "It's Oscar Time. Money Back If He Walks. We will refund all losing."

The Advertising Standards Authority said the campaign has received more than 5,200 complaints.

The watchdog said it is investigating whether the campaign "brings the good reputation of advertising generally into dispute" for trivialising the death of a woman and disability.

Chairman Lord Smith said the watchdog took the "unusual step" of directing the advertiser to withdraw the ad pending investigation given the "unprecedented number of complaints".

On Tuesday, Paddy Power’s chief financial officer Cormac McCarthy refused to apologise for the stunt and insisted it was "just responding to demand" despite triggering a storm of outrage.

Asked whether the campaign was morally wrong, McCarthy said it was "matter of opinion".

On Monday, Pistorius pleaded not guilty of murdering Ms Steenkamp, claiming he shot her in a case of mistaken identity thinking she was an intruder.

Steenkamp was shot three times, being hit in the head, arm and hip from three bullets from a 9mm pistol through the locked bathroom door of Pistorius' upscale villa on Valentine's Day last year.

Prosecutors argue he intentionally shot and killed  his girlfriend following a domestic dispute. If convicted of murder he will almost certainly receive a life sentence, with a minimum term of 25 years.