Tim Youngman: Paddy Power pranks are a risky bet that seem to have paid off

Paddy Power

Paddy Power - Credit: PA

Over the last few years’ bookmaker Paddy Power, has made a name for itself using controversial stunts for self-promotion. It started this in 2010 when it erected the largest ever ad hoarding on Cleave Hill which conveniently faced the Cheltenham race course ready for the gold cup. Other stunts followed, from adding a jockey to the 3,000 year old Uffington White Horse to getting Arsenal’s Nicolas Bendtner to wear and display Paddy Power pants at Euro 2012. They even have a dedicated team coming up with these headed by “head of mischief”.

On the night of June 7 Paddy Power tweeted a picture of an aerial view of the Amazon rainforest with what seemed to say “C’MON ENGLAND - PP” carved out of the rainforest in enormous lettering. Within minutes this image had been spread around the world leading to worldwide condemnation for them seemingly chopping down trees to deliver an ad campaign.

Within 24 hours 160,000 people had visited their blog, stoked by comments from Paddy Power on its twitter account such as “we haven’t cut down that much” and “don’t get your hemp knickers in a twist”. Then on Sunday evening they released the pinnacle of the campaign, another computer generated image of the same area, this time with the words “WE DIDN’T GIVE THE AMAZON A BRAZILIAN”. This was alongside a message on how they were trying to raise awareness of deforestation in the Amazon, starting even more media coverage and one very happy department of mischief at Paddy Power.

If the thousands of people who tweeted abuse to Paddy Power had bothered to take even 10 seconds to Google the company they would have seen its history of stunts. Instead they fell hook, line and copy of the Racing Post for another one of its clever marketing stunts. Would it work for every brand? Absolutely not. Will they do it again and even better, look at the money cannot buy coverage they gained and what do you think? If any marketing students of any age are reading this I urge you to look more closely at this and see a master class case study of modern disruptive marketing.

Tim Youngman is director of marketing for Archant