I love sport. All kinds of sport. Betting companies love it too as it makes them a lot of money: football, rugby, athletics, killing women, darts… Hang on, what? Yes, it seems that the violent death of an unarmed woman is the latest fun event for punters to have a flutter on:
Irish betting company Paddy Power are using this advert both online and in print media to drum up business. Not only is it distasteful for its not-so-subtle mockery of a double amputee, but it turns the death of Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of Oscar Pistorius into merely another means of making money.
Although Paddy Power are kind enough to refer to Ms Steenkamp by name in their explanation (unlike much of the media, who seem to think her name was “top model” or “Oscar’s girlfriend”) that seems to be the extent of their acknowledgment that she was a human being. The fact that she was a woman with family and friends who mourn her seems to have escaped them entirely. Their greed has blinded them to the horror of the incident they’re profiting from.
When Ms Steenkamp was shot 3 times, I doubt her last thoughts were “Oh well, I may be dying but at least this will make Paddy Power some money”. As she lay dead in a pool of blood on her boyfriend’s bathroom floor, I don’t imagine many people thought “Brilliant! I can turn this into an advertising gimmick!”. As her shocked and grieving family arranged her funeral I’m sure that betting on whether her killer would be convicted wasn’t very high on their list of priorities.
As they seem oblivious to the inappropriateness of their actions, I’d like to point out to Paddy Power and its chief executive Patrick Kennedy that profiting from a woman’s death doesn’t make them marketing geniuses. Begging people to bet on the outcome of her killer’s trial smacks of desperation and voyeurism, not daring and humour. It is a sickening, despicable and mind-bogglingly ill-thought out thing to do.
The very least that Paddy Power should do at this point is void all bets on the matter, apologise unreservedly to Ms Steenkamp’s family and make a sizeable donation to a charity that helps victims of domestic violence. While they’re at it, perhaps they can learn how to be decent human beings instead of money-hungry ghouls.