Lessons Learned from Paddy Power

paddy power

Funny campaigns work if they’re actually funny.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks you’ll know that Kate Middleton and Prince William had a baby. The baby George was born on the 21st July and wasn’t named until a few days later. The betting giant Paddy Power had been accepting bets on the little princes name, weight and due date since Kate had announced her pregnancy. Whilst other marketing departments went with sweet cute campaigns to celebrate the royal couple bringing a little life into the world, Paddy Power went in a completely different direction.

Paddy Power took their ‘babies’ on a tube ride to St Mary’s Hospital, visited Buckingham Palace, Boujis Nightclub and St Mary’s Hospital to advertise their odds on the babies hair colour.

The word that’s been most used to describe this campaign is ‘grotesque’. What can we learn from this type of shock marketing?

Shock marketing isn’t a new trick.

Companies like the Benetton Group have used their advertising to create furore since the mid 80’s. However, a controversial billboard is still a static image and unlike the 1980’s, people can now record their immediate reaction to marketing ploys through social media sites such as twitter.

When global events like The Royal Baby happen, it gives businesses a chance to market to customers in a more creatively diverse way and helps to engage with them in real time. Stunts like Paddy Power’s capitalise on breaking news and the excitement around the event without having to spend a lot of money. Four large men travelled around London in masks, this event garnered press from The Guardian, Metro, The Standard, Design Taxi, Digital Spy to name a few. So whilst it achieved its goal, was the Paddy Power stunt a step too far.

When looked at marketing stunts surrounding the Royal Baby, Paddy Power’s was listed in the ‘Ugly’ or just plain ‘Bad’ categories. It received more media attention because it was so hideous, so what are the risks of a marketing strategy like this one. The Royal Baby will pump money in the economy from a lot of different businesses; the moment will boost shoppers’ sentiment and would encourage them to buy products. However, companies that are obvious about them profiting off of the baby might find their campaigns backfiring on them.

Paddy Power oversized 'royal' babies, London, Britain - 01 Jul 2013

A marketer’s job is to sell brands and sometime a tactical opportunity presents them with a short window that is too good to miss. If a brand tries to somehow link itself in a less tongue in cheek way to the event, or its brand personality is so far removed from a royal celebration then the credibility of that brand may suffer.”

Don Williams, chief creative officer at branding consultancy PI Global.

Paddy Power is a company that is obviously going to profit from The Royal Baby, however as a betting company, their image isn’t squeaky clean and this campaign is upfront about its goals. There are a few lessons we can learn from Paddy Power’s fearless campaign strategy.  The inoffensive marketing campaigns may be better respected but they might not see profit from their safe campaign. Shock marketing can be done well if you’re prepared to receive negative press.

A good marketing rule of thumb is that a humorous campaign always gets talked about if they’re actually funny, people love sharing funny content. Whilst horrific, you can’t argue that Paddy Power received a chuckle and was definitely talked about the next day at work.

If you’re not prepared for shock marketing and would like more down-to-earth marketing tips, check out the blog over at Webeden.  It’s not too intrusive and offers another something for people who aren’t as brave as Paddy Power

Theresa Harris is a freelance writer who's interested in marketing, tech and has way too many bookmarks in her browser. You can usually find her pouring over newspapers, typing furiously or curled up with a cup of tea trying to lure her cat in for a rub. You can follow her writing at @Theresaandtea

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