It’s the time of year again. Anyone with an interest in horse racing will definitely be looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival. And if you have an interest in marketing and sport I’m sure you’ll be looking forward to Paddy Power’s next marketing stunt. The bookmaker is well-known for its brilliant budget PR stunts, particularly ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
Here is our pick of Paddy’s most powerful and ludicrous promotions.
1. The Uffington Horse
Ahead of the 2012 Cheltenham meet, Paddy Power added a unique touch to the historic Uffington Horse in Oxfordshire.
The Irish firm placed their own jockey – with the initials PP on his helmet – on top of the 374 ft chalk figure. The covert operation took place over six hours in darkness. The ‘reveal’ attracted attention from those passing the chalk horse, as well the world’s media.
2. Pensioners crossing
It’s not just in the racing world that Paddy Power attracts headlines. Back in 2002 the most complained-about advert in the UK showed two old ladies crossing a road.
Paddy Power claimed that the odds bubbles next to them were for betting on who would get across the road first, not who would be run over.
3. Hollywood comes to Cheltenham
The bookmaker has a history of promotions around the Cheltenham Festival. In 2010 Paddy Power erected the world’s largest free standing advertising board. Positioned next to the Cheltenham Gold Cup venue, the sign stood 50 feet high – that’s five feet higher than the original Hollywood sign.
4. The Chav Tranquilizer
In 2012 Paddy Power produced a television advert for the Cheltenham Festival, supposedly in response to a post on its Facebook page, which read “Hope the chavs don’t ruin Cheltenham like they did Ascot.”
The ad sees a sniper disposing of members of the crowd. The promotion was quickly banned, gaining valuable publicity without the need for a television-sized budget.
5. Sponsoring Nicklas Bendtner’s pants
At the Euro 2012 football tournament, Paddy Power sponsored Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner to expose a pair of underwear bearing the firm’s logo.
Paying the striker’s subsequent fine of £80,000 only prolonged the story. That’s £80,000 well spent.
6. Captain Cook
Ahead of the second Ashes test between Australia and England in July 2013, Paddy Power projected an image of England’s ‘Captain Cook’ on to the Oval test venue.
The mocked up photo of England captain Alistair Cook showed him in a Royal Navy hat with the caption, ‘Captain Cook: Civilising Aussies since 1770”, a reference to Australia’s history as a penal colony.
The mischief-making bookmaker created a storm on social media, encouraging supporters to sledge the Australian team with the hashtag #AussieBashing.
7. London’s French Olympics
Ahead of the London 2012 Olympics, the bookmakers erected posters around London boasting about their sponsorship of an athletics event in a small French town, which also happened to be called London.
The Olympic’s organising committee, LOGOG, demanded that the posters be removed. Paddy Power’s threat of legal action added further valuable publicity.
8. Imogen Thomas’ photo shoot
In 2011, Manchester United’s legendary footballer Ryan Giggs was revealed in the House of Commons as the footballer who had an affair with Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.
At the same time Thomas was on a photoshoot with Paddy Power. Newspapers refused to publish the resulting adverts, which featured Thomas wearing a Manchester United kit.
Yet again, the bookmaker created big publicity from a small outlay.
9. Skyjacking The Ryder Cup
Paddy Power annoyed the (losing) US Ryder Cup golfers in 2012 when it delivered provocative “sky tweets”. The stunt involved five planes “writing” tweets in the sky, which had been supplied by European fans. The messages were visible from more than 20 miles away and poked fun at the US team, particularly Tiger Woods. One Tweet read “Seen Tiger?”
Here’s a short video showing how the Tweets were created:
10. Giant Royal babies
My favourite campaign is also one of the simplest. The bookmaker is best known for its sports betting, but also operates in gaming, casinos and novelty betting. Ahead of the birth of the new royal prince in the summer of 2013, the betting firm sent four grown men dressed as oversized babies to various tourist spots across London. Its aim was to publicise betting on the colour of the newborn’s hair.
Wearing nappies, crowns and masks, the babies were certainly ‘bonny.’
The stunt probably didn’t cost more than a few thousand pounds, yet the story was covered by many of the UK’s national newspapers.
What do you think?
Which is your favourite Paddy Power marketing stunt? Let us know in the comments below.