Paddy Power attacks 'vanilla' Oscars with 'Shaft' award for black actors

Paddy Power has launched a 'Shaft' award to find the best black actor never to have won an Oscar as it takes a swipe at the Academy Awards' "suspiciously vanilla looking list of nominations".

Paddy Power: unveiled a 'Shaft award' in response to the #OscarsSoWhite row
Paddy Power: unveiled a 'Shaft award' in response to the #OscarsSoWhite row

The bookmaker is asking the public to vote on who their favourite black actor is in a knockout style competition featuring Hollywood stars such as Samuel L Jackson, Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey and Thandie Newton.

In its latest cheeky PR stunt Paddy Power says the Twitter poll competition "works in your standard football World Cup format albeit without the massive corruption and free Rolexes for hosting it in an unlikely location".

Paddy Power ran a draw yesterday to put 32 black actors who had not won an Oscar into eight groups of four and the two that won the most votes from each group progressed to the quarter finals, which take place this morning.

The winner of the final will be revealed tomorrow, ahead of the Oscars ceremony on Sunday.

Actors including Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith have expressed outrage there are no black actors nominated for the best actor or actress category.

In a blog post, Paddy Power said: "It’s that time in the year when the movie industry’s most talented, most beautiful, most Caucasian people come together to give each other firm pats on the back and laugh at how it’s all a big stitch-up.

"Often maligned, the Academy Awards remain the most prestigious accolade any white actor can possibly hope to win in the course of their career."

The brand has poked fun out of itself by conceding it is running the competition "in the hope of getting some cheap publicity".

Paddy Power has carved a name for itself with its outrageous PR stunts. One press ad it ran entitled ‘it’s Oscar time’ was pulled and was the most complained about ad in 2014 after it invited punters to bet on the outcome of the murder trial involving Oscar Pistorius.

Paddy Power is running odds on its current Shaft competition and is using the #ShaftAward hashtag for the campaign.

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