Sportsbet’s recent amusing but controversial ad starring famed sports drug cheat Ben Johnson has been banned by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).
The ad was found not to condone the use of sports enhancing drugs, however, it was “contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety”.
The ad was the work of BMF, and B&T has contacted the agency for comment. The ASB has allowed Sportsbet to modify the ad to meet the code.
The order means the online gambling company, no stranger to controversial advertising, will have to pull the ad from free-to-air TV, Foxtel and from social media.
In its findings, the ASB noted: “The Board considered that the prevailing community standard on health and safety is opposed to the use of performance enhancing drugs and to avoid drug use more generally.
“In the Board’s view the advertisement depicts performance enhancing drug use in sport in a manner that is contrary to prevailing community standards on health and safety. The Board therefore determined that the advertisement breached section 2.6 of the Code.
“The Board considered that young children would be unlikely to understand the double entendre references to drug use and that there was not a breach of the Code on this basis,” the determination found.
In its defence, Sportsbet said the ad was clearly “comical” and and did not present themselves “as real outcomes achievable through taking performance enhancing drugs”.
When the ad first aired in mid-May, it appeared to upset a number of people including federal sports minister Greg Hunt who said the company “should know better”.
“To use a known drug cheat such as Ben Johnson to advertise their product is utterly inappropriate,” Hunt said.
It’s been reported that the free to air networks that ran the ad had “received a significant number of complaints”.