An advertisement that ran in British newspapers encouraging gamblers to bet on Floyd Mayweather Jr. to defeat Conor McGregor in their much-hyped boxing match has been ruled ‘likely to cause serious offense on the grounds of race’ by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The ad was produced by Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker.
The ad included the phrase ‘Always bet on black’ (a line from the Wesley Snipes film Passenger 57). The rest of the ad read, “We’ve paid out early on a Mayweather victory. Because we checked, and only one of them is a boxer.”
According to the ASA, they received nine complaints about the ad from people, ‘who considered that the headline contained an obvious reference to Floyd Mayweather’s race [and] challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.’
In response to the complaints made to the ASA, Paddy Power stated that their ad, ‘was not intended to cause offence on the grounds of race’ and acknowledged that the headline referred to Floyd Mayweather’s race, but that it ‘was not used in a derogatory, distasteful or offensive manner and the overall tone of the ad was light-hearted and humorous.’
Oh hello. Always bet on black. #Mayweather pic.twitter.com/bYyG9c1wsZ
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) August 25, 2017
In defending their ad Paddy Power further stated that the wording had been approved by Mayweather, who wore Paddy Power branded boxer shorts including the slogan during the ceremonial weigh-in for his August 26th fight with McGregor. Paddy Power said Mayweather found the line ‘funny, rather than offensive or derogatory.’
Despite Paddy Power’s explanation (and Mayweather’s endorsement) the ASA upheld the complaint against the bookmaker. In their ruling, ASA stated that, ‘We acknowledged that the headline claim did not make a negative statement about Floyd Mayweather’s race and had endorsed him to win the match. We also acknowledged that Floyd Mayweather had authorised the claim. However, we considered that readers would nevertheless be offended by the invitation to always bet on the outcome of a boxing match based on a boxer’s race, and the message that the boxing match was a fight between two different races. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious offence on the grounds of race.’
In response to the complaint being upheld, the ASA has informed Paddy Power to ensure that they avoid causing serious offense on the grounds of race in future advertising. The specific ad has also been banned from further use in the UK.
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