It’s safe to say that over the years, Paddy Power (PP) has never shied away from controversial marketing ideas. Whether it was Floyd Mayweather’s ‘Lucky Pants’ for the Conor McGregor boxing encounter, the ‘Break glass in case of emergency’ Alex Ferguson doll outside Old Trafford during David Moyes’ torrid spell at the club, or the Gambling at the Last Supper ad which bore the slogan “There’s a place for fun and games”, PP just simply love walking the line like a tightrope.
The betting operator has to have one of the edgiest and most creative marketing departments in the gambling world. They simply always seem to manage to give us a shock or a laugh. Even just last week they unveiled the “Tiger’s arrived” billboard for The Open, complete with a crashed car prop going through the advertising.
Well, they’ve managed to pull off another fantastic headline-grabbing stunt in conjunction with recently-relegated Huddersfield Town.
Huddersfield and PP apparently launched the club’s new kit in a recent friendly. Pictures of the kit, which sported the PP name in an enormous sash-style stripe from bottom to top, quickly went viral as fans could not believe such a hideous jersey had been created. Everyone was talking about it and, pretty soon, it seemed the whole of social media was laughing at Huddersfield Town’s new jersey.
Of course, that was only the beginning of PP’s brilliant marketing campaign. Just a couple of days later, Huddersfield officially launched their new actual home kit, revealing that the club and PP had gone in the opposite direction to what we all thought. PP were sponsoring Huddersfield’s kit – but they were “unsponsoring” them. Yes, unsponsoring. By unsponsoring Huddersfield, PP’s brand will be noted for its absence from the jersey in what has been touted as a stand against the mass sponsorship of club kits. No good marketing campaign will progress without a hashtag so PP announced it as #SAVEOURSHIRT. What a way to suddenly be viewed as the good guys, battling against the power of money in football. The YouTube video confirming the launch even has the excellent line “don’t you wish we weren’t on your shirt?!”.
PP’s head of PR, Lee Price, spoke about the new sponsorship deal: “Paddy Power wants to be the only bookie not to be on football shirts. Last season the number of bookies on shirts was staggering.
“The mass sponsorship of football clubs has gone mad – you’ve got noodle brands and Angry Birds and so on. The best way to sponsor a football shirt is to unsponsor it. If Paddy Power wants to get involved in sponsorship we want to turn it on its head, do something for the punters and be true to Paddy Power.”
It’s a very, very bold move from PP who, by not having their logo or name visible on the jersey’s of the clubs they sponsor are depending solely on the power of their marketing plan. It may well work. Seeing a ‘blank’ jersey with no name or logo will prompt us as fans to remember exactly who is ‘unsponsoring’ that particular team.
“We did a lot of research into it and the reason why a lot of football shirt sponsors are based in China is that a huge part of the value for that (front of shirt) space is the international audience,” added Price.
“Obviously, Paddy Power isn’t an international brand so even if we did a straight sponsorship, we’d still be losing a certain percentage of the sponsorship of that space.
“For the budget we had, which wasn’t huge, we thought this campaign would deliver enough bang for its buck as a marketing campaign to not worry about the loss of value [of no logo exposure]. It’s always hard to quantify marketing and PR value but we felt the balance is right here.”
PP are backing up this move with some follow-up momentum-building schemes such as the ‘shirt amnesty’ where they will offer all Huddersfield fans a swap of last season’s old jersey for one of the new unbranded ones – this will be available to fans at Huddersfield’s first game of the 2019/20 season against Derby County.
The #SAVEOURSHIRT campaign seems to be gathering some momentum north of the border, too. Scottish Premiership side Motherwell FC has now also penned a similar deal with PP, becoming ‘unsponsored’ by the bookmakers.
About the Motherwell deal, a PP spokesman stated:
“We’re delighted that The Well are joining in the fun for the upcoming campaign and we’ve been impressed with their ability to keep their involvement top secret, despite all the noise of the past week.
“We’ve been planning this with them for months, and it feels great to finally unveil their involvement and their beautiful home and away kits for next season.”
PP’s marketing launch went to perfection as far as exposure goes and it was certainly one of the hottest online topics when it was executed.
It’s unclear how long this marketing strategy will be implemented. Will PP have their logo actually displayed on the Huddersfield and/or Motherwell jerseys next season?
It’s another case of PP’s marketing department being ahead of the game and – to use a criminally overused term – thinking outside the box.
Whatever the future holds for the #SAVEOURSHIRT movement, PP really captured their target audience this summer.