'Utterly inappropriate'; politicians pan Sportsbet’s tongue-in-cheek ad

Daisy Doctor
By Daisy Doctor | 15 May 2017
Ben Johnson for Sportsbet

Sportsbet is under fire after launching a spoof campaign featuring drug cheat Ben Johnson.

Update: Sportsbet has no plans to take the ad down after more than 100 complaints race in. 

The athlete, who won the 100m sprint in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and subsequently had his title stripped days after the race after testing positive to steroids, fronts the campaign to push Sportsbet's Android app, along with a Lance Armstrong lookalike, a burly Eastern European weightlifter and a muscular Chinese female swimmer.

Other than the campaign's title 'Putting the Roid in Android' remark, references to drug use are littered throughout the ad as Johnson is introduced with: “When it comes to performance enhancement, Ben really knows his stuff.”

The “juiced-up” Android app has been “testing positive for speed and power, again and again”, it continues.

The spot ends with Johnson winking to the camera: “Even the download time is faster, at a record breaking 10 seconds...even faster if you cut corners”.

The campaign, from BMF and shot by Revolver’s Matt Devine in Romania, has already garnered the attention of Australian politics, with The Guardian reporting sports minister Greg Hunt has called the ad “utterly inappropriate”.

Senator Nick Xenophon adds: “It is just wrong on so many levels, glorifying a drug cheat, tying it in with gambling and promoting it to kids in a light-hearted way.”

In the original media release, BMF ECD Cam Blackley says: “There are times when you concoct an idea that makes you laugh so much you think ‘nup, we’re never going to get that made’. Well Sportsbet booked our tickets to Romania and here we are. And to work with Ben Johnson, my boyhood hero, that’s the icing.”

Sportsbet GM of marketing Luke Waldren says: “Our new Android App is unfairly fast and everyone’s on it, so we felt compelled to tell the world.”

The campaign went live this weekend.

View the spot here:

Listen to the radio spot here:

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