Wednesday, 22 February 2012

More on the Paddy Power debacle

This morning I received a generic, content-free response from Paddy Power in response to their "Ladies Day" advert (the text of my complaint to them can be seen here).

Below follows the response I received:
Hi [my name] and thanks for taking the time to e-mail Paddy Power.

We are fully committed to our current UK television advertising campaign “We Hear You” which includes the 30 second commercial “Lady’s (sic) Day”.

“Lady’s Day” was preapproved by British television advertising watchdog Clearcast who took the view that the humour, while not to everyone’s taste, fell short of causing offence.

Paddy Power welcomes feedback and would like to thank all those who took the time to share their views. We would like to apologise to those who took offence.

Yours truly,

Paddy Power

This evening I visited the ASA website to make a complaint and was greeted by the following splash-screen on their online complaints page:
Making a complaint about Paddy Power?

The ASA has received a significant volume of complaints about an ad for Paddy Power plc. The ad, which alludes to Ladies’ Day Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, features crowd scenes and close-up frames at a racecourse. Viewers are invited to guess the gender of the individuals depicted in the ad. Members of the public have objected that the ad is irresponsible and offensive, because they consider that it is transphobic and derogatory towards transgendered people and women

If you have seen the ad on Paddy Power’s YouTube channel or on their facebook page or Twitter account, your complaint is outside our remit and you should not submit it to us. This is because Paddy Power is an Irish company and editorial decisions for the contents of these sites reside in the Republic of Ireland. Marketing originating outside the United Kingdom is considered to be foreign media and excluded from our Code. There is, however, an equivalent organisation to the ASA in Ireland called the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI). Complaints about Paddy Power’s social media sites mentioned above should be directed to the ASAI. Similarly, complaints about Paddy Power’s website should be directed to the ASAI.

We have, however, launched a formal investigation into the TV ad. We don’t need to receive any further complaints about the TV ad and if you do submit a complaint, we won’t respond directly. Complaints that are lodged, however, will provide us with an opportunity to continue to monitor public response to this ad. Our findings will be published in due course and you will be able to read the decision in full on our adjudications page.
I have made my complaint to them so that it might be added to the weight of numbers that they have already received. The description of my complaint was this:
The Paddy Power advert "Ladies Day", about which you are already well aware, aims to shame transwomen and is derogatory to women. The advert suggests that transwomen should be sought out and openly identified as men, normalising bullying and harassment of transgendered people. I also found its dehumanising portrayal of women offensive, with the advert comparing women to mares. At one point, the narrator also seems to imply that a woman pictured is a "dog", known as a pejorative term for an unattractive woman.
It's clear that many people have already complained and it is still worth adding your voice to those that have been heard. I will also be complaining to the ASAI as suggested on the ASA website.

I'll be keeping my eye on the story and will update as further information becomes available.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A complaint to Paddy Power

This morning I was made aware of a thoroughly unpleasant advert from Paddy Power, openly inciting viewers to "out" transwomen as a 'bit of fun' during Cheltenham Ladies Day.

I've written to Paddy Power's Director of PR to complain, the text of which is shown below:

Dear Mr Robertson

I'm writing to complain in the strongest terms about Paddy Power's recent "Ladies Day" advertisement.

The advert aims to shame transwomen, and suggests trying to differentiate "the stallions from the mares".

Transpeople in the UK experience discrimination & harassment on a daily basis. The 2010 crime statistics showed that recorded transgender hate crimes rose 14% on the previous year. Transwomen are subjected to abuse ranging from taunts & name-calling to sexual assault & rape. The 2007 CPS guidelines on prosecuting homophobic & transphobic hate crimes* states that these acts are taken particularly seriously because they "undermine people’s right to feel safe about... their gender identity, whether they are women or men."

By suggesting that transwomen should be sought out and openly identified as men, your advert not only shows a gross misunderstanding of gender identity, it is inciting viewers to transgender bullying and hatred. I'm sure this is something the ASA will view as seriously as the CPS, and I will be forwarding my complaint to them in addition to my direct complaint to you.

I request that on the basis of the offence caused by this advert, and particularly the incitement to transphobic bullying, Paddy Power withdraws the advert immediately and publishes a full apology to the trans community on your website. In reparation for the offence & potential harassment of transwomen incited by the advert, I also suggest Paddy Power considers donating to TransEquality ( who support transgendered people who have suffered bullying, abuse or hatred as a result of their gender identity.

I look forward to hearing from you.


I'm going to do a bit more research to find out where the ad's been broadcast on the TV before forwarding my complaint to the ASA. I'm also considering forwarding my complaint to the Police.

If you would like to contact Mr Robertson yourself you can find his contact details here.

I'll post any response I receive.