Paddy Power is back in the media spotlight with an edgy promotion that skirts the lines of UK advertising standards.

Late last week, the cheeky Irish bookmaker dove into the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight hype with a promotion that attempted to complement Mayweather, while using a racially charged term.

The mini-drama started on Thursday when Paddy Power announced on Twitter that it would be paying off all bets on Mayweather, before the fight even took place. This kind of promotion is not uncommon for Paddy Power, but the way they announced the promotion is what caused some trouble; a Tweet reading, ”We always bet on black. We’re paying out early on a #Mayweather victory. We always bet on black.”

Not surprisingly, Paddy Power’s generous offer to Mayweather supporters was overshadowed by their questionable decision to bring the boxer’s race into the mix. The response on social media was immediate as social media users pointed out their displeasure with this sort of racial language.

Typical comments included:
“Who was stupid enough to come up with that line?”
“I have to say, as much as I love Paddy Power, that has racism written all over it.”
“Presumably someone thought this was edgy and good for publicity.”
“And in one tweet, you’re now completely racist. Love the banter, but you’ve crossed the line. Delete.

Clearly taken aback by the brewing controversy, Paddy Power issued a statement claiming that the product of was neither racist nor just plain dumb. The bookmaker used the excuse that the line was lifted from the 1992 motion picture, Passenger 57.

In statement to the Daily Mail, a Paddy Power spokesman said:
“Like Wesley Snipes – who famously delivered the line – Floyd Mayweather is rightfully proud of his identity and, while the advert does reference his race, it does so in a manner which isn’t in any way derogatory or insulting.

It’s also a betting-related pun which references a roulette wheel. Because we’re about gambling – get it? If people don’t like it that’s entirely their prerogative.

But, most of all, it is a statement of fact. Floyd Mayweather is black and we’re suggesting you should bet on him because we believe that he’s going to win. We wouldn’t be paying out otherwise.

While it’s likely that most Twitter users and Paddy Power customers will quickly put this controversy in the rearview mirror, don’t be surprised if this ad gets to spend some time with the, never funny, UK Advertising Standards Bureau.

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