Today it has been announced that a Paddy Power advert depicting a team of blind footballers who mistake a cat for a ball during a match, has been banned. This can't come as any surprise to the bookmaking giants who are no strangers to controversy as far as their advertising campaigns go. Prequels to the blind footballers include a group of friends in wheelchairs who do a ‘runner' from an Indian restaurant before paying the bill and an office worker who accidentally sends a rude email around his entire office which results in a few co-workers gagging over their keyboards. These adverts are simple, effective and grab the target audience's attention. I am sure that they muster more sniggers than most other adverts on the telly, but as usual a few stiff-collared prudes have to ruin it for everyone else by moaning to the authorities about how terminally offensive it is.
On whose behalf are we getting offended for here, the cat or the footballers? It can't really be the footballers as the actors in the advert are all qualifying members of the English team who are about to take part in the World Blind Football Championships later this year as it's what they do for a living. If they are able to poke fun at themselves, then why can't we? And as for the cat it's obviously fine, there is even a clip of it alive and well in the tree it was booted into at the end of the ad.
Forget Paddy Power and it's harmless laddy fun. There is a far more disturbing advert doing the rounds at the moment, one which will shake you to your core and will never get banned and that's the John Lewis 'Always A Woman' advert. The sentimental and nauseating story which follows a woman from her birth to her old age has actually had people in tears (I'm sure no-one has shed an actual tear over Paddy Power) and is designed to make most people without a husband, a 4x4 and 2.4 children feel like shit. In the advert, the John Lewis lady moves seamlessly from an acne-free adolescence into a long-lasting marriage to a handsome man whose children go on to have wholesome, giggly offspring of their own. John Lewis's message is that they have a lifelong commitment to us I'm sorry? What have you ever done for me, John Lewis? Diddly squat! Do you really think that having a sofa which costs three grand and lasts 20 years is going to make up for finding my handsome husband in a compromising position with his secretary on it? And what about when my gorgeous curly-haired grandchildren decide to carve out their names in the mahogany dining table, are you going to be there for me then? No, I didn't think so.
So, basically, leave Paddy Power alone. Their adverts are more real and harmless than any idealistic shit that John Lewis can cook up in order to make a few more sales at the weekend. Paddy Power might offend a few snobs for an hour or two, but John Lewis causes tears, self-doubt and lasting trauma for anyone with a less than perfect life, which is just about everyone, right?
By Jessica Hazel freelance journalist and cynic.