With an event as big as the World Cup coming up, it would be rude not to make a splash. It will be the biggest event the business has seen in its 26 years of life.
At Paddy Power, we love a bit of mischief. It gets punters talking about our brand and helps us stand out from the crowd. The mischief team’s objective was to make us the most talked about brand in the UK and Ireland before the World Cup, with a budget that is a fraction of the Nikes of this world.
With all eyes on Brazil, but little to talk about except some fairly mundane friendlies once the season had ended, there was a lovely gaping news vacuum that we couldn’t resist having a little shot at. So the natural answer was of course to announce a collaboration with Professor Stephen Hawking.
One of the most intelligent men in the world used maths to answer some of the meatiest questions tormenting football fans – and had a nice bit of banter with media at the launch press conference to boot.
#HawkingTalking trended on Twitter and our story appeared as a page lead in every national newspaper (online and print). Even Newsnight fancied a piece of the action, giving us a branded slot about the research. The weekend mischief with the Amazon was a very different beast. Pretending to carve “C’MON ENGLAND” into The Lungs of the World got the enormous reaction we hoped for. Key to the mass outrage was people believing the images were real. Our media partner Sabotage Times used its extensive black book to ‘leak’ this out there for us. Smoke & Mirrors did such a great job making the pictures plausible that even when the geeks on Reddit analysed them, the unanimous verdict was that they were real.
We woke up on Saturday to the brand trending on Twitter, getting the sort of abuse that Malcolm Tucker would blush at. Even one of the hobbits from Lord of the Rings waded in to call us “brainless wankers”. We knew that we had to suck up the abuse so this could grow into a story. In fact, our in-house team of Twitter genii fuelled the fire targeting people with notable Twitter followings with stuff like “don’t get your hemp knickers in a twist” and “we haven’t cut down that much”. The hatred peaked as England kicked off against Honduras in Miami.
The reveal came after 24 hours of this maelstrom. We went out on Facebook, Twitter and to media to reveal that “WE DIDN’T GIVE THE AMAZON A BRAZILIAN” and that the stunt was in fact to raise awareness about deforestation of the rainforest. Both Paddy Power and #SaveTheRainforest started trending on Twitter as vitriol turned to (mainly) laughs and even a little praise. Over 160,000 people visited our blog in 24 hours where we explained what we had been up to in our own words.
We’re not up for becoming the Bono of bookmakers, but there’s certainly no harm in every so often using our profile to not only create a bit of excitement but also to support a good cause.
Harry Dromey is mischief champion at Paddy Power