Sportsbet Android Advertisement, an Unfair Advantage

1988 Olympian Ben Johnson

Sportsbet have released a controversial new TV advertisement which has sent social media into a whirlwind.
The new ad is promoting Sportsbet’s new mobile app for Android and stars 1988 Olympic sprinter and drug cheat Ben Johnson. The slogan for the campaign is ‘putting the roid in Android’ and stars a series of cliché doping sports that have been famous for hosting doping cheats, including swimming, cycling and weightlifting.

The company has copped some serious backlash from the advertisement, with hundreds of angry Twitter users voicing their opinions saying the ad was simply not a good look for the company and it was of poor taste.

Twitter user Paul Makin said “drug cheat Ben Johnson [was] obviously being paid to glorify doping,” and another user Lynton Manuel said “I think that’s definitely a new low in Aussie advertising.”

Industry sources have told Melbourne media that Ben Johnson was paid at least $200,000 to appear in the advertisement.

Sportsbet is now facing a ban as the complaints continue to flood in. The Australia Sports Andi-Drug Authority released a media statement saying it “has lodged a complaint about the advert with the relevant authority”. ASADA said it didn’t condone the message that was being projected by the advertisement and it “denigrates those who work to protect clean sport across the world”.

A large percentage of people have complained, particularly about the time when stations have aired the ad. The advertisement was shown throughout football games during last weekend and first aired on television when it was presented by Sportsbet front man Nathan Brown on the Sunday Footy Show which begins at 11am. 

Politicians have also had their say on the matter with many of them wanting the ad pulled from television. Senator Nick Xenophon said: “it is just wrong on so many levels, glorifying a drug cheat, tying it in with gambling and promoting it to kids in a lighthearted way.” 

For every complaint the advertisement received however, there was a viewer who loved it. There are several websites such as that are claiming there was a much higher percentage of the public who said they loved the ad compared to those who didn’t.

T Ryan said the ad was brilliant. “A tip to anyone speaking out against it, you’re doing exactly what [Sportsbet] want,” he tweeted. Another Twitter user Sal said: “greatest marketing campaign in recent memory. Pollies just dead set can’t have a laugh these day. Keep it up fellas.”


Sportbet has been open about the backlash coming from its advertisement, Tweeting links to articles which condemn the ad. Spokesperson Will Byrne said the company “make no apologies for injecting some humour into advertising.” The company did tweet that “Sportsbet does not condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs” and linked their responsible gambling section of their website.  


Here are a few of the tweets from people who were both for and against the advertisement.


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