Online protestors have branded Irish bookmakers Paddy Power ‘vile’ and ‘offensive’ after they used the Oscar Pistorius murder trial to promote their offers.
The bookmakers were taking bets on whether or not the Paralympian athlete would be found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Then they highlighted the tasteless market by offering to refund losing bets if Pistorius was found not guilty. In the advert, Paddy Power claimed: “It’s Oscar Time. Money Back If He Walks. We will refund all losing bets on the Oscar Pistorius trial if he is found not guilty.”
The advert was timed to coincide with the Academy Awards on Sunday evening to gain the highest possible attention.
However, as soon as it was published, angry online protests began to gather pace. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 100,000 people had signed a petition demanding the bookies stop taking bets on the case.
One post said: “The brutal death of a woman at the hands of her partner is not ‘sport’ or ‘entertainment’ and promoting the opportunity to make money from it is a vile and offensive act which anyone with a sense of human dignity and respect for human life must reject.”
Paddy Power have now closed the market, but were unapologetic when questioned about the campaign. A spokesperson for the firm said: “We don’t plan to pull our betting or advertising. There’s nothing new about betting on the outcome of the most high profile court cases. Given the rolling coverage of this trial, pretty much everyone will be talking about it.”
It is not the first time the Irish firm has caused a stir with its attention grabbing advertising. They received heavy criticism from animal rights groups in 2010, when a cat was kicked by a blind footballer in one of their ads.
Oscar Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp who he shot through a door in his home in South Africa. The athlete denies murder and claims he thought he was shooting at an intruder who had broken into his home.