PointsBet, NBA Star Shaq Get Dubious Honor for Worst TV Spot in Australia

Posted on: December 15, 2022, 08:08h. 

Last updated on: December 15, 2022, 02:10h.

Sports betting operator PointsBet recently joined forces with NBA great Shaquille O’Neal to create a run of TV ads for its Australian operations. It probably seemed like a great roster move at the time. But one spot is a brick shot with consumers.

Shaquille O'Neal
Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal in a public appearance. TV ads he created with Australia’s PointsBet operations haven’t found a lot of success with consumers. (Image: Marca)

Australia’s Ad Standards agency, which oversees advertising in the country, gave the PointsBet ad the dubious honor of being the worst spot of 2022. This comes because it received the most complaints from Aussies among all of the ads that ran on TV, according to The Herald Sun.

Apparently, a record number of Australians took offense to the ad, complaining that it put them in a bad light. They contacted Ad Standards in droves to protest, allowing the simple commercial to get under their skin.

Shaq Shoots Airball With PointsBet Ad

In the ad campaign, Shaq talks sports with Jack Steele and Matt Ford, the Aussie comedy duo better known as Inspired Unemployed. Given that the two helped beer brand Better Beer set a sales record earlier this year, it seemed like a smart move by PointsBet.

For the ad that riled up the Aussie landscape, Shaq and his new buddies are talking about the Australian Football League and horse racing. The use of exaggerated accents and gestures flooded the spot.

Apparently, dark humor isn’t an Aussie’s strong suit, based on the number of complaints Ad Standards received. They called it “insulting” and “offensive,” especially to “young men.”

The watchdog didn’t think so. It admitted the ad might be over the top. But Richard Bean, the executive director of Ad Standards, told the media outlet that it didn’t break any rules. Netizens can check out the ad for themselves and draw their own conclusion:

Bean added that the “self-deprecating humor” was an attempt to celebrate Aussie culture, not condemn it. However, Shaq will probably want to work with a trainer if he wants to improve his Aussie accent.

Too Soft

Earlier this year, Ad Standards slammed virtually the entire commercial industry because of an increase in violence in ads. In the first six months of the year, it received more than 1,100 complaints about violence, sexual content, and nudity.

The agency fields calls for violations across all media channels, including free TV, pay TV, and social media. Among this year’s offenders have been Apple, Uber, Sony Pictures, and even Cancer Council Victoria.

Some of the more recent complaints are questionable, however. For example, the spot with the third-highest number of the year was an Uber Eats ad that included Paris Hilton and the Irwin family, the famed animal-loving clan of the late Steve Irwin.

In it, Hilton appears with her pet chihuahua. Before the ad concludes, a snake eats the pet. Without the underlying context, it’s difficult to understand the humorous undertones. However, Aussies felt a snake eating a dog, even if it’s make-believe, was too violent.

Another spot, which depicted a character unable to close his mouth, was the second-place winner for the most complaints. It was an ad for a financial lender, but the viewing public felt it made fun of people with disabilities. Ad Standards agreed.