Behind the scenes of Paddy Power's World Cup social media campaign

By Mícheál Nagle


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July 10, 2014 | 4 min read

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You didn’t have to be Paul the Octopus to predict that Brazil 2014 was going to be the first truly social World Cup. Four years ago, we were only just beginning to dip our toes in the water when it came to social – but 368k Twitter fans and 1.3m Facebook likes later, we knew this one was going to be a very different beast.

Not unlike Roy’s boys, we’ve been feeling the weight of expectation. For some reason, amongst other metrics, we told the business we’d go for the ridiculous target of 1m interactions during the tournament, a target that had us sweatier than if we’d been playing the opener in Manaus.

The all-important warm up

So, after we’d panicked for a bit, we started prepping. Yes, a lot of our work is off-the-cuff, spontaneous fare, but we knew we’d need plenty of pre-competition planning and practice to be fit for the four weeks to come. The first moves were obvious. Convincing Panini to send us a bunch of free stickers. Shopping around for a Tomy Super Cup Football game. Grilling Paul Scholes, our World Cup pundit, on who his favourite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle is.

Also, our cheeky rainforest stunt in the week just before kick-off was an excellent example of some nifty social media marketing which helped us to dominate online conversation in the lead up to the tournament. Much like our ‘sky tweets’ campaign at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, social was central to the success of this ‘hoax’, not to mention the sort of campaign that somebody working in social dreams being a part of. A proper comedy barney with Dominic Monaghan from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was my personal highlight.

Capitalising on the opening games

During the Brazil v Croatia opener, excitement was at fever pitch and simple tweets like the below delivered huge engagement, helping us set a new Paddy Power record for the most interactions we’ve ever had on a single day.

Over the past 18 months, Twitter has been a huge growth area for Paddy Power and they’re a great bunch to work with. Our campaign-led #BrazilNuts promoted trend for the first England game went better than we could have imagined, helping us own the conversation on the opening weekend.

Spontaneity is the spice of life

Of course, we also take an ‘always on’ approach so that when a news story breaks we’re ready to comment on it using our irreverent tone of voice. During the World Cup, we’ve been working around the clock, providing live Twitter updates of every match and supporting our mischief, PR and editorial teams. These are some of my favourite examples to date of reactive tweets that that have really helped to drive positive sentiment about the Paddy Power brand.

We couldn’t resist this when Jonathan Pearce seemed to lose all logic and reason on live TV (further proof that Dr Spock would be the perfect foil to Phil Neville in the commentary box).

While Luis Suarez getting his teeth stuck into Giorgio Chiellini was obviously a major talking point, sending the team into over-drive.

New platforms that people in social like doing stuff on

One of our major success stories in this World Cup has been our growth on other social platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Vine.

We see our expansion on to these platforms as a challenge to come up with new ways to engage with our customers. Human interactions are key to brand loyalty and building a strong consumer base. Since Snapchat launched stories for brands, we’ve been able to add a human touch to our content on social under ‘thepaddypower’ alias. The response has been phenomenal. Our audience growth has sky rocketed through the World Cup, with a mix of fun content and specific-enhanced specials entertaining our Snapchat pals.


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