Paddy Power mischief ‘a necessity’, despite controversies

Festival of Marketing: Controversy is a “must have” for the Paddy Power brand, its ‘mischief champion’ Harry Dromey has claimed, even if they backfire like PR stunts around the 2013 Ashes.

Mischief is necessary for the brand to stand out in a “commoditised” betting market said Dromey, who is responsible for all Paddy Power’s stunts, speaking at the Festival of Marketing in London today (12 November).

Asked for examples of failures, he cited an image of England cricket captain Alastair Cook projected onto the Oval playing surface during a match with Australia, accompanied by the phrase “Captain Cook: civilising Aussies since 1770”, which fell flat because it received relatively little coverage.

Paddy Power also received criticism and a ban from the Advertising Standards Authority for bringing advertising into disrepute earlier this year, when it offered consumers a refund if Pistorius was acquitted of murdering Reeva Steenkamp.

The business “understands the necessity of mischief”, Dromey claimed, arguing that Paddy Power’s stunts around relevant events such as the FIFA World Cup and golf’s Ryder Cup are an effective and cost-efficient marketing strategy.

“It makes our lives a lot easier, it makes our work a lot cheaper and it’s laser-targeted marketing,” he said, adding that “every marketing pound has to be spent more wisely than the competition spend it.”

The “filter” that Paddy Power puts on ideas is that “if you can imagine any other brand in the world doing it for any reason, it probably isn’t for us”, Dromey said. Concepts are generated by his ‘mischief department’, which then allows individual marketing channels to exploit them in the best way they think they can.

There are only three rules Paddy Power adheres to in its stunts, according to Dromey: “Don’t piss off ISIS, don’t do anything illegal and don’t use ‘page 3’ girls or ‘FHM humour’, because it makes you look like you’re stuck in the Nineties.”

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Sarah Vizard

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