Paddy Power: Maintaining brand identity with daring marketing campaigns

Paddy Power has undoubtedly gripped UK gamblers’ attention with quick-witted, often tongue-in-cheek marketing campaigns in recent years, most recently launching a ‘socially-distanced party’ with brand ambassador Peter Crouch.

SBC spoke with Lee Price, Head of PR and Mischief at Paddy Power, to discuss the ‘unsponsorship’ of Huddersfield Town, social media engagement and tackling tough industry dynamics with daring marketing campaigns.

SBC: Paddy Power is known for not shying away when it comes to tongue-in-cheek campaigns. How do you know when to draw the line?

It isn’t easy, and I guess sometimes we don’t – but, generally, we do take these things very seriously. Despite what you might think. We consult heavily internally and externally, and we always refer back to our brand pillars: is it sharp-witted? Is it daring but on the right side? Is it something only Paddy Power is capable of pulling off?

Personally, I think that an element of tension around the topic means you’re definitely in the right territory. If there isn’t any edge, then you’re unlikely to be doing anything interesting.

SBC: Since lockdown began, a few of your marketing campaigns have pushed more of a socially-responsible message (Peter Crouch social distance party / Hector Bellerin tree pledge). What was the thought process behind these two campaigns?

Well, let’s be honest – it’s great to pay back to the planet by planting thousands of trees, but that campaign was mostly about trolling Arsenal. Although, brilliantly, we appear to have triggered a resurgence-ish in form from them – yes, we’re definitely claiming it if they win the FA Cup.

But, generally, we do what feels right at the time. The socially distanced title party was reacting to a topical news story around fans ignoring government guidelines to celebrate their team’s success – understandably, perhaps – and was also tongue-in-cheek.

We certainly don’t consider either campaign to be totally serious, but it’s also a reminder that we’re not the opposite.

SBC: Social media has undoubtedly become a huge part of the millennial day-to-day life, how important has it been for Paddy Power to ensure that it taps into that generation with a strong social media presence?

Generally, social media is one of the bedrocks of our brand. It’s a hugely popular channel where we can harness all the great things about Paddy Power – the tone of voice, the personality, the sense of mischief.

So, while I’m not sure I’ve ever said the word ‘millennial’ out loud without gagging, we definitely think a strong social media presence helps reach all potential audiences.

SBC: Politicians seem to be cracking down on gambling sponsorships even further – what could this mean for the Huddersfield unsponsorship?

Well, it was kinda the point of the activation – to shine a light on what was evidently an issue within our industry, which affects football fans like us.

That our hoax kit was actually considered legitimate was pretty indicative – and the outpouring of emotion that we say when we revealed the unsponsored kits for our five partner clubs was overwhelming. The number of fans who got in touch saying they wish their club could join the movement was astonishing.

Gambling companies, clearly, have to advertise – but, at Paddy Power, we know our place, and it’s not on your shirt.

SBC: And finally, does Paddy Power have any new stunts in the pipeline?

Yeah, don’t tell anyone, but Paddy’s going to announce he’s running for President of Ireland, but actually it’ll just be a way of generating attention before he drops his latest mixtape. What? That one’s been done already? Damn, back to the drawing board, then..!

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