LONDON A gambling advertisement that claimed online betting would improve sexual prowess and self esteem has become one of the first campaigns to be banned under tough new laws, following criticism from the advertising watchdog.
The national press campaign for online casino Paddy Power was irresponsible in linking gambling to "seduction, sexual success and enhanced attractiveness", the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled.
The advert, published in the Times, featured a dwarf in a limousine flanked by two beautiful women, smoking a cigar and holding up a champagne glass.
A strapline accompanying the advert said: "Who says you can't make money being short?"
The ASA, in a separate ruling, also criticized a gambling television advertisement campaign that featured "slapstick, juvenile humor that was likely to appeal to children".
The Intercasino campaign also featured dwarves, this time undertaking "Jackass-style" stunts including rolling down hills in dice outfits and sliding down bell-ropes dressed as fruit-machine cherries.
The watchdog has banned both campaigns in the UK -- the first since tough new gambling advertising laws were introduced last September.
Upholding a complaint against Paddy Power, the ASA criticized it for linking gambling with sexual success and an improved self-image.
"We concluded the ad suggested this man's 'shortcoming' had been overcome by the wealth he had acquired through gambling and therefore that the ad implied gambling was a way to improve self-esteem or gain recognition or admiration," the ASA ruling said. "We concluded the ad was irresponsible."
It also criticized InterCasino, saying the juvenile behavior in the adverts breached the code by appealing to children or young people.
Paddy Power defended its campaign, saying it recreated a famous scene from the 1980s Hollywood film "Wall Street," starring Michael Douglas as avaricious banker Gordon Gekko.
InterCasino defended its ads as "gentle slapstick humor reminiscent of old-fashioned routines by Charlie Chaplin or Benny Hill", which were not designed to appeal to young children.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)