SBC Case Study: Paddy Power – Social Inspection

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Following his series exploring Facebook and gambling, SBC’s Sam Cooke gives insight into the current social strategy for Irish igaming bookmaker Paddy Power and its social media strategy. The bookmaker now dominates industry social coverage and has extended its social reach through social mediums into the public eye. Put simply Paddy Power warrented further social inspection

Paddy Power social coverage by the numbers

Paddy Power are the stand-out champion bookmaker on social media by the numbers. They lead the way across the main channels; those being Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Facebook.

  1. PADDY POWER – 1,257,381 Likes
  2. WILLIAM HILL – 509, 038 Likes
  3. SKYBET – 466, 845 Likes

Twitter.

  1. PADDY POWER – 319k followers
  2. CORAL – 240k followers
  3. SKYBET – 221k followers

Youtube. ( Videos watched)

  1. PADDY POWER –  Chav Tranquiliser – 1,541, 710 Views
  2. BET365 – bet365 Features Generic – 557,759 Views
  3. WILLIAM HILL – Phil Taylor and Judd Trump Job Swap – 251, 810 Views
    (Statistics accurate as of 15/05/14)

 
Facebook and Twitter are naturally the go to social media platforms for marketing and thus its these that Paddy Power focuses its attention on. Their Facebook page is essentially a collection of amusing sports, mainly football, based memes and photos of their latest campaigns – it’s there to make you laugh, from time to time ‘shock’ you and always get you sharing with friends and discussing it later.

Twitter, by its nature, is more constant and relentless with play by play almost spontaneous reactions from the Paddy Power team. It uses the platform to engage with users more frequently than any other but the Twitter page is also used to promote betting promotions and up to the minute deals. Its flippant take on everything frequently leads to funny Twitter ‘arguments’ with others.  One such example is this with Ladbrokes ( Screenshot : http://www.asocialmediaagency.com/blog/)

It’s also interesting to note it’s one that a Paddy Power follower, not them themselves, started. Their reputation has reached such a point that others can do some of their work for them.

Youtube is of course updated far less than Twitter and Facebook but this does not significantly lessen its usefulness or importance to the overall strategy. Far more than any competing bookmaker Paddy Power’s Youtube channel is chokablok with original content which frequently features big name players and ‘they can’t do that!’ content (see touting controversy section for details).

The bookmaker’s focus is online. With tablets and smartphones increasingly popular and commonplace, betting sites and apps can reach an ever extended audience. From 2008 to 2012 the online betting industry increased in value by 80% with the UK industry alone worth £2.28bn. (http://digitalmarketingstrategy.ucd.ie/). This is a figure that will continue to rise.

Paddy Power’s particular focus on the digital savvy (and obsessed) 18-30 years old target audience is paying off. This is an audience which is young, and thus the bookmaker is also fully aware of the potential of securing its brand loyalty, affluent, and near constantly connected. CEO PATRICK KENNEDY likened selling on Google to “selling in a department store” whereas comparatively selling via Facebook and social media was like “going to sell at a drinks party”. This meant, he continued, that “you need your fans to be much more engaged, and I think that’s a key point of distinction for Paddy Power.” (http://calvinayre.com/2013/08/28/business/paddy-power-boosts-profits-via-social-media/)

Those long commutes to and from work need not be so dull with an unlimited internet connection and the Paddy Power real money gaming app. This is an app incidentally which is due for a re-release this month. The Facebook based app, previously titled ‘Paddy Power In-Play’, is to be rebranded ‘Paddy Power Social’ with several new features aimed at encouraging even more social, real cash betting. Some of these will include the option to copy bets, laugh at bets and console after lost bets with fellow players. It’s innovations such as this and the close embrace of social interaction and betting at which Paddy’s excels and triumphs.

(http://www.sbcnews.co.uk/technology/2014/05/06/paddy-power-set-to-relaunch-facebook-betting-app/)

Touting controversy (*some of their best ad campaigns)

The effects of whatever Paddy Power do to advertise in real life, be it a Moyes statue at Anfield or sponsoring Farnborough FC with the contractual agreement that all the players change their names by deed poll, are only worthwhile due to the reach and power of social media. These campaigns often cause a frenzy of tweets, shares, likes, and are rewatched and blogged about as soon as they hit the web.

Not all Paddy Power campaigns are created solely with a view to brand promotion however. The Rainbow laces campaign which supported the goal to rid the sport of homophobia was one which, in the space of one week, created 400 media stories, over 300m Twitter impressions and had the #RBGF hashtag trend worldwide. It wouldn’t be a Paddy Power campaign without some tongue-in-cheek take on the issue and so ‘Right Behind Gay Footballers’ became the slogan. Its success though cannot be denied; players from 54 professional clubs took an active part by wearing the laces. This was a campaign which cost just £150k yet obtained a staggering reach; the role of social media in achieving this was vital. (http://www.dandad.org/en/)

Typical content from the bookmaker though is often controversial and funny which ensures, to an extent, its timelessness. These type of videos will be remembered months later in many a pub discussion, rewatched once more and as such reclaim further marketability for the Paddy Power.

In no particular order here we recount some of their best (for better or worse) remembered campaigns…

Kim Jong Un buys Sunderland AFC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCX5wWhuhgQ)

This Youtube clip featuring a puppet Kim Jong-Un, of North Korean fame, was a three minute ramble spoof about his plans to buy the club amid discussions with his ‘friend’ Paolo Di Canio.

Paddy Power – Blind Football Ad

The most complained about television advert of 2010, this featured a blind football match in which a cat ends up being kicked out of the arena.

Farnborough FC – greatest team in history

In 2013 Paddy Power became the key sponsor of the side Farnborough FC. One of the stipulations of the deal was that all the players had to change their names to that of famous players throughout history from Beckham to Beckenbauer. (For one season only we should add).

David Moyes Anfield statue

A dramatic and fantastic opening to the video ends with the revelation of a statue being erected outside Anfield of the ‘man every Liverpool fan loves’; David Moyes. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6_8r2CQIBY)

Arsenal fans responding to mean tweets from fans

Collecting and hand picking negative tweets directed at Arsenal players, this clip put the players to the test such as whether Per Mertesacker can actually turn quicker than a pint of milk. He made it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP7k1QkkhZk)

Oscar Pistorius campaign (http://i.huffpost.com)

The most complained about advert of all time. The slogans: ‘It’s Oscar Time’, ‘Money back if he walks’, upset a few but (though no statistics exist to confirm this, it’s the truth) made far more laugh. A representative of Paddy Power referred to the ad as ‘a reflection of water-cooler conversations around the globe rather than a commentary in any manner whatsoever on violence or death’. Also adding that the company’s own research via social media had concluded that it was a group of around just 10 individuals that had driven the agenda to stack up complaints against the advert. (http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/complaints-upheld-over-paddy-power-pistorius-ad-1.1770168)

Whilst there were many to pick from, these stood out as evocative of the Paddy Power marketing style; to entertain and to shock. The common trend amongst them all; they will p**s off some, they’ll make some laugh but they’ll get almost all talking. In 2013 the Marketing Director of Paddy Power Christian Woolfenden said how; “The complaints are never from your own consumers, for us we know our consumer and we receive around 95 per cent positive commentary, then you get the five per cent who have an opinion on everything, and actually if we don’t get complaints we’re quite disappointed.” (http://www.thedrum.com/news/2014/01/13/)

 

Turning social into revenues

The pre-2012 Paddy Power was an entirely different animal to the one we encounter, the one it’s hard to avoid, today. The aim was to compete with the big boys in the industry; the William Hills, the Ladbrokes, the Corals. The initial campaign of ‘We Hear You’ was born. In a diluted, one liner this meant far more, and far better, interaction with users. They listened to tweets and to Facebook posts and responded personally on a broad scale – see the ‘Chav free Cheltenham Races’ video born out of a Facebook post; ‘Hope the chavs dont ruin Cheltenham like they ruined Ascot’ for just one of many examples. Within a year of this new campaign, or perhaps a more suited word is ideology, the firm had seen a 29% increase in net revenue and a 50% growth in new customers. (https://www.marketingsociety.com/sites/default/files/thelibrary/Paddy%20Power.pdf )

At Euro 2012 they shone. They achieved 40% share of consumer conversation and over double the engagement level of their closest competitor; Vauxhall. On social media they obtained over 8000 mentions across the board, trended third in the UK and eighth worldwide during the Euros with Google analysts estimating the financial return at around £10m. (https://www.marketingsociety.com/sites/default/files/thelibrary/Paddy%20Power.pdf)

Paddy Power has fully embraced the digital world far better, and far quicker, than its rivals and last year’s financial return shows its paying off. In the first six months of 2013 online revenue rose 29% whereas mobile revenue more than doubled to the tune of over £84m, meaning this represented 43% of the firm’s online total revenue. Kennedy has predicted that mobile will account for 90% of industry growth over the next six years. (http://calvinayre.com/2013/08/28/business/paddy-power-boosts-profits-via-social-media/)

A pre-tax profit of over £62m was 22% higher than the same period in the previous year highlighting just how lucrative the increased focus on social media and online in general has been. Indeed, of this figure, £46m arose from Paddy’s online and mobile ventures. The future is online and by swamping social media with content people want to read and share; Paddy have set themselves up in a sound position for the upcoming years.

Conclusion

With the recent announcement that long term CEO Patrick Kennedy will step down in 2015 who knows in whose hands the Irish bookmakers hands will be next year. There is little doubt however, that whoever it is will be someone brave enough to continue to push the boundaries, to continue to get the Paddy Power brand name talked about in as many circles as possible for reasons good and bad.

Kennedy or no, Paddy Power will not go quietly into that good night. Remember that this is a firm famed for mischief and proud of it. A company which sponsored Dennis Rodman’s trips to North Korea, before pulling out at the eleventh hour amidst complaints from various quarters and ‘a reaction to the worldwide focus and total condemnation of the North Korean regime over recent events’. (http://www.channel4.com/news/paddy-power-dennis-rodman)

It’s also a firm who just happen to have an official ‘Head of Mischief’ in Ken Robertson.  Be rest assured that wherever and whenever the next opportunity for a poor taste promotional opportunity arises, fear not, for they will be there. And with the World Cup not too far off, I doubt we’ll have to wait too long.

 

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