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Shaquille O’Neal may be one of the all-time greats in the NBA, but he is leaving fans less than impressed with his stint as a spokesman for PointsBet. The four-time NBA champion signed as a PointsBet brand ambassador in January 2021 and has been regularly seen in commercials for the sports betting platform.
However, not all of his ads have been met favourably. According to Australia’s Ad Standards agency, one such ad has been selected as the worst ad spot of 2022. Most of this stems from protests from viewers offended by the ad, causing it to be the most protested ad of the year.
Earlier this year, PointsBet aired an ad featuring Shaq along with Jack Steele and Matt Ford of Inspired Unemployed. The ad featured Shaq talking to three Aussies about horse racing and the Australian Football League. The Aussies continually used exaggerated gestures and accents throughout the spot. In the end, Shaq referred to himself as “Shaqodile Dundee,” a play on the famous Crocodile Dundee films from the United States.
Back in October, the ad started receiving waves of protests from viewers that found the ad offensive. According to one complaint raised with Australia’s Ad Standards group, “It portrays the ‘Aussies’ as real stupid yobbos. I’m an Aussie too, and don’t identify as a yoobos (sic) lout like these characters are portrayed. It’s offensive to my (sic) as an Australian to see my culture down like this.”
In another ad with Shaq and the boys from Inspired Unemployed, Shaq is asking about the rules of Aussie Football. In the end, he exclaims, “Oi quarterback, get a dog up ya!” The guys grimace and shake their heads over Shaq’s failed attempts to fit in. This ad did not draw nearly the complaints that the Shaqodile Dundee spot did.
Due to the controversy surrounding the Shaquodile Dundee ad, the Ad Standards group has declared the ad the worst spot of 2022. The dubious honour was given to the ad due to the number of complaints received throughout the year. The Ad Standards group called the ad “insulting and offensive,” particularly to young Aussie men.
Despite the dubious honour, Executive Director Richard Bean admitted that the ad did not break any rules.
Back in October, PointsBet defended their ads, stating, ‘Australia, people, and place is known throughout the world to be uniquely different. This uniqueness is a positive trait that extends to our vernacular, places, animals and more.”
‘It is a place like no other with its own peculiar take on the English language and sport. In reality, it is common that persons not familiar with Australiana struggle to understand our colloquialisms, mannerisms and the like.”
‘The ad is intended to be a comical and playful take on these real to life scenarios.’
In this case, it appears that SportsBet tried a little too hard with its humour. The ads clearly are trying to make Shaq relatable to the Aussie public, and it is sometimes painful to watch. Part of Shaq’s charm is his down-to-earth persona and an ability to self-deprecate. However, the ads tend to go a bit far to make him likable to the average Aussie.
Furthermore, there are ways to bring humour to these situations without going over the top, as was the case of the Shaqodile Dundee bit. The AFL Rules bit was much more believable and better suited for the situation.
While we expect that Sportsbet will continue to try and put Shaq in funny scenarios in the future, we would not be surprised if the company tones down the humor in future ads.