‘Own goal’ ad is no such thing

There’s a certain distaste at the glee with which people are proclaiming that the The National Council on Problem Gambling in Singapore has scored an ‘own goal’ because its advertisements across the World Cup have ‘tipped’ Germany to win.  The advert features lots of children discussing who they want to win the tournament, with the kicker at the end being ‘Andy’ who wants Germany to win because his dad has bet all the kid’s savings on them.

A pretty effective message that problem gambling has wider repercussions. However last night’s German destruction of Brazil has had the advert ridiculed for encouraging excessive gambling by having Andy’s dad betting on Germany.

The advert started going viral during half-time, with Twitter in particular awash with criticism using the #failad tag. This is all despite the fact that Andy’s dad’s bet hasn’t come off (yet).

Even the local politicians were joining in the fun. Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin had this to say on his Facebook page: “Bad timing. Looks like the boy’s father who bet all his savings on Germany will be laughing all the way to the bank!” While Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck posted a comment as well: “Germany beat Brazil 7-1 ! Brazil need to find out what went wrong and I need to find the script-writer for the gambling control advertisement.”

Talk about missing the point. While Singapore ministers are apparently well known for flippancy problem gambling is a big problem in the country.  If the gambling industry had been so blasé about problem gambling (instead of merely faintly embarrassed by it) then it would have seen severe sanctions.

The National Council on Problem Gambling has kept a level head during all this and said the ad was a timely reminder of the possible effects of gambling on loved ones and not to get carried away in the “excitement and hype” of the World Cup. “Selecting Germany injected a sense of realism in our messaging, since no one will bet on a potentially losing team,” a spokesman said. “At the end of the day, win or lose, the dangers of problem gambling, and the potential anxiety and pain that loved ones go through, remain unchanged.”

Far from being an ‘own goal’ though, the campaign has suddenly got global coverage and hopefully the important message will get debated far more than it would have done otherwise. Paddy Power themselves would have been pleased at the effect of this one.


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