Paddy Power's head of engagement on the risks and rewards of betting in the political sphere

Trump has been good for business for Paddy Power.

Donald Trump's emergence as a figurehead of the anti-establishment has created big business for Paddy Power, but with the rewards from punchy marketing campaigns around his rise to presidency have come greater risks as the brand pushes itself further into the volatile and complex political landscape.

Paddy Power has ramped up its marketing around politics since Trump's emergence as a political player. The brand has applied its irreverent sense of humour to all things Trump, offering odds on scenarios like Trump having cosmetic surgery on his penis and his widely discussed 'small hands'.

The launch of a dedicated Trump betting hub in March this year has seen the number of political bets soar. According to Paddy Power's head of brand engagement, Paul Mallon, since the hub went live it has had around 10,000 bets placed, 50 times more than the amount of bets it had around Obama's inauguration.

"Politics betting is serious business and a serious test of expertise," said Mallon at The Drum's Future of Marketing event today (10 May).

But Trump's arrival on the scene isn't the first time Paddy Power has sought media attention by harnessing what's going on in the politics. In 2015 the brand parked a truck bearing the message “You’re getting sacked in the morning” outside of Parliament in Westminster, but Mallon maintained the truck approach "gets very boring very quickly in terms of trying to get coverage".

That's why Paddy Power has stepped up its creativity for its marketing around Trump. Paddy Power offered odds on how orange his face would be at the inauguration and had a specially assembled Mexican band – 'Juan Direction' – perform at Prestwick airport when the president's plane landed.

"It's about injecting us into the conversation," said Mallon when discussing the approach to the stunts around Trump. "It's about getting attention, creating noise and getting your brand consideration."

He maintained that this can be done in the marketing campaigns or even through the use of a snappy one-liner on social media, delivered in the right way and at the right time.

However, timing has been something of a pitfall for Paddy Power too. It paid out early on bets for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, which cost it $1m and then pay out on Trump's win took the total loss to around $4.5m.

Mallon said the blunder forced them into clawing back cash, in turn fuelling more creativity around betting in the political space. This led to the brand employing Irvine Welsh to write a blog around the election and Trump.

"He created a lovely piece of content for us that blurred the lines between news and marketing," said Mallon. "It was a small audience but we know people who engage with this content spend around two and half times more on betting."

The most rewarding move in terms of media attention has been the decision to create the head of Trump betting role, a position which tasked the successful candidate with managing the its ‘hub’ of specials around the US President while also keeping up with his press conferences, statements, tweets and “general idiocy”.

It didn't issue a press release for the job; instead it posted the vacancy on LinkedIn and the media caught wind of it.

"We're getting a lot of coverage for very little investment," said Mallon. "We made the front page of USA today, page four of the New York Times and coverage on Fox News, CNN, BBC."

Paddy Power's application of irreverent humour has struck a chord with audiences and while it has tripped itself up navigating the space, Mallon stated that it has not been deterred from the earlier failings.

"We're going to continue having fun with all of this. It's the kind of stuff you're talking about at home – we want to inject ourselves into that conversation.

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