BOOKMAKER PADDY POWER has defended an advertisement that appeared in this morning’s newspapers in which it apologised to Mitt Romney for not winning this year’s US Presidential Election – in part because he’s “not black”.
The half-page advertisement heralds the fact that the bookmaker has already begun paying out on bets that Obama would win tomorrow’s election.
“Sorry, Romney”, the ad declares. “You’re not black or cool.”
This afternoon the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland said it would be beginning an investigation into the advert after receiving a complaint from a member of the public.
“It’s not a clear-cut case that this is offensive or not,” said Frank Goodman, its chief executive, who added that a response would now be sought from Paddy Power to defend the advert against charges that the ad is in breach of the Code of Standards for Advertising, Promotional and Direct Marketing.
“Historically, the black community have been restricted in rights and access to public life,” Goodman said.
“If someone refers to this and says, ‘Obama, you’re not white’ [...] that would probably be immediately offensively racist.”
Paddy Power spokesman Ken Robertson dismissed such suggestions, however, and insisted the ad was “not supposed to be racial stereotyping”.
“It certainly wasn’t our intention to set out to offend people,” Robertson asserted, saying the bookmaker merely wanted to underline that it had paid out €650,000 to punters who had bet on Obama to be re-elected.
“In keeping with all Paddy Power advertising, it’s edgy – sometimes a little bit provocative – but always funny,” he said.
The ad is a statement of fact – the President of the USA is black, and we’re saying he’s cool.
We’re not saying he’s cool because he is black – he’s cool because he’s the president of the free world, who hangs around with Jay-Z. If that’s not cool, what is?
Robertson refused to discuss whether the bookmaker would have run such an advertisement in ad had it been the case that Obama’s race had cost him the presidency, saying such a prospect was “never on the table”.
“I don’t really accept that argument. This ad was developed around a campaign line. We can talk about a hypothetical until the cows come home,” he said.