Here is a link to the advert for anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about.
It was launched in May this year and aired extensively on channels such as Sky Sport in the run up and during the Football World Cup.
Despite over 1000 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, around 800 of which were related to animal cruelty and 200 to offence caused to blind people, the advertisement was allowed to go ahead. They stated that animal cruelty did not occur because the cat was shown to be unharmed. They also said that the advertisement promoted awareness of blind football.
I was one of the complainants, my reasons are stated below:
1. I love blind jokes. I tell them and I laugh about them, but I do it with my friends and family or other blind people. If a stranger came up to me in the street with a blind joke I would probably not find it funny. The reason for this is that I would not know the intent of the joke teller. I wouldn’t know if they were laughing with or at me. Paddy Power in a way represent that stranger.
2. Many members of the public have such a low or negative expectation of the capabilities of blind people that they would believe that a blind person would mistake a cat for a ball, simply because they both sounded a bell.
3. Disability sport, and particularly blind sport, has a very low profile in this country. People do not on the whole take it seriously or recognise the achievements of disabled sports men and women. Far from promoting blind football, this advertisement just laughs at it. There is nothing to show that these players are in fact representing England and to recognise their achievements.
Today I have recorded a piece for RNIB’s Insight Radio which they will play to a representative from Paddy Power and ask for comments.
I look forward to hearing what they have to say.