The edgy advertisement, which has been torn down and destroyed, included a large photo of former Aussie TV host, and convicted sex offender, Rolf Harris smiling and waving. A caption on the billboard read, “The only Aussie we don’t want to get out.”
Harris’ image was part of a promotion for the Ashes Test at Lord’s cricket match between Australia and England.
The offensive billboard immediately drew the ire of social media users and that triggered Paddy Power’s retreat. In a statement to the press, a Paddy Power spokesman said:
We decided that, on balance, although potentially amusing for the cricket fan, the sentiment of the advert crossed the line and had the potential to cause offence. It’s not often Paddy Power make this kind of decision but in this instance we believe we made the right call not to run it. We can confirm that we will be destroying the advert and it will never be released in public.
To say that Paddy Power doesn’t, “make this kind of decision,” often is something of an understatement. The company is well known for pushing the limits of good taste in its advertising, especially when it comes to celebrities.
Last year the company came under fire for promoting wagering on the outcome of the Oscar Pretorious trial in South Africa. That particular campaign earned the distinction of generating more complaints with UK advertising regulators than any other ad in 2014.
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