Dear Paddy: That Joke Isn't Funny Any More

Anyone else just getting a little tired of Paddy Power? There was only one good thing about yesterday's humiliating defeat to Australia at Lord's I was fortunate enough to be present for, or should that be unfortunate? There was no sign of Paddy Power's Rolf Harris poster which the bookmaker had sensibly decided not to release. Only they kind of did, on social media "by accident."

In case you haven't seen it, the poster has a picture of the children's entertainer and artist who was convicted for sex crimes with the tagline "The Only Aussie We Don't Want To Get Out." For those who don't know much about cricket, yesterday's match was part of The Ashes, a bitterly contested competition between old rivals England and Australia. For those who don't know their television stars, Rolf Harris was convicted of historic sex offences last year. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Quite how that could be transformed into a joke is probably beyond most people. But then, this is the bookmaker that was advertising odds on whether para-Olympian Oscar Pistorius, accused of murdering his girlfriend, would "walk." It was rightly banned, as was a tv ad where a vet shot tranquilisers at "chavs" spoiling racing at Cheltenham and another where Jesus made a return to clean up football. I'm no killjoy; I actually thought the vet shooting chavs with darts was pretty amusing. In fact, nine times out of ten, their ads make you laugh even though they are often in bad taste. However, taking odds on whether a man who runs on "blades" will "walk" from a murder trial, driving a van around the coast telling immigrants they can stay as long as they run fast enough, is a different kettle of fish.

As is using a picture of a convicted sex offender to have a joke about getting Aussies "out." It's not clear whether the image of the poster was leaked on purpose or not, but it seems odd to decide not to run a poster and then leave it in the public's gaze in London only to be tweeted by an Irishman based in Dublin. I know what I suspect happened, although it has to be accepted that it might have been a coincidence.

Nevertheless, it's another joke too far in my opinion, and at some stage the brand is going to suffer by constantly walking a very fine line between humour and very bad taste.

As for me, there's a song from The Smith's which sums up my thoughts both in its lyrics and title -- "That Joke Isn't Funny Any More."

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