Boylesports, a UK-based bookmaker, is in hot water with advertising regulators after running an offensive, crucifixion-themed advertisement during Holy Week.

The advertisement in question, which was e-mailed to Boylesports players, featured a bleeding hand that had been nailed to a piece of wood (which was clearly a cross) with a sign hanging from it reading, “BETWEEN 5-25 QUID.”

Accompanying the graphic was text reading:

In memory of the dearly departed JC, we are offering you a sacrilecious [sic] bonus this Easter weekend … So don’t just sit there gorging your own body weight in chocolate, that’s disrespectful. Get on Boylesports Gaming and get your nailed on bonus.

Not surprisingly, the advertisement was not a big hit with Boylesports Christian customers, one of whom filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which was similarly unimpressed.

Boylesports response to the complaint was nearly as sophomoric as the original ad. Company officials actually defended both the timing and content of the ad by saying that crucifixions were common during the time of Christ. They went on to say that the crucifixion in their ad wasn’t that crucifixion, merely a generic depiction of a crucifixion.

The ASA didn’t buy that argument for a second and scolded the bookmaker in a report saying:

We considered the offence was likely to be particularly strongly felt by those of the Christian faith at Easter, when the imagery would have a particularly strong resonance. We considered that the ad was likely to cause serious offence and concluded that it was therefore in breach of the [advertising] code.

While the ad was definitely in poor taste, it’s definitely proven to be good PR. After all, Boylesports got what amounts to a slap on the wrist for a seasonal ad that they probably wouldn’t have run again anyways and loads of free press in the process.

Well played, Boylesports. Well played.

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