Aussie Regulators Pull Sportsbet’s ‘Juiced Up’ Ben Johnson Ad
It’s yet another example of the breathless complaints of a few can exert tremendous power when it comes to advertisements for gambling operators.
Sportsbet’s problems with the Australian Advertising Standards Board began shortly after they started airing ads for their newest Android-based mobile betting app. The ad feature a number of puns that center around speed and the term, “juiced up.”
Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson is, of course, best know for losing his gold medal in the 100-yard sprint in the 1988 Seoul Olympics for the use of anabolic steroids.
Jokes in the advertisement make clear reference to Johnson’s troubles and are clearly presented in a humorous fashion. That, however, is not how the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority saw the ad.
With not much humor in their hearts, the Agency launched a complaint suggesting that Sportsbet’s ad was somehow promoting the use of performance enhancing drugs. In support of their claim, they pointed to jokes in the ad such as, “Nobody knows performance enhancement like Ben Johnson,” and, “Putting the roid in Android.”
After an investigation into the matter, the Advertising Standards Board agreed with the Anti-Doping Agency. They issued a report, as reported on by The Guardian, which chided Sportsbet saying:
In the board’s view the use of Ben Johnson in conjunction with a humorous message about drug use conveys a message that there is not a negative side to drug use and cheating and could be seen as a suggestion that there are benefits to gain from cheating or from behaviour that will enhance your performance.
The Board suggested some changes that Sportsbet could make so that they could continue running the ad, but the company had pulled it already anyways.