A Gambling Company Risks It All

By: Julia Sprowls

We’ve all heard those commercials for lottery tickets and casinos that make gambling sound fun and exciting, and then end with a telephone number to call if you have a gambling problem or addiction. That’s about the extent of in-your-face gambling advertisements we see here in the United States. The story is a little different in Ireland and England. A bookmaker company, Paddy Power, is often at the center of controversy with its guerilla marketing strategies.

Paddy Power is Ireland and England’s largest telephone and Internet betting service, and it’s known for offering odds on controversial events to gain publicity. The company has offered betting markets on an assassination of Barack Obama and the first animal to become extinct because of the BP oil spill in 2010. Allowing these markets to have betting stakes alone is enough to garner attention, but Paddy’s Power also produces advertisements and public relation stunts that land them a not-so-reputable name.

Leading up to the birth of Prince George, Paddy Power sent four grown men dressed as over-sized babies to various locations across London. The babies posed for pictures on the Tube, in front of Buckingham Palace and St. Mary’s Hospital where the royal baby was to be born. This humorous stunt gained them the publicity they wanted in several big-name news articles.

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In 2005, Paddy Power launched a billboard advertising its company with a replication of Jesus’ last supper, except Jesus’ table was covered in gambling equipment. The slogan read, “There’s a place for fun and games.” Just days later, the billboard was pulled from all 89 locations across Dublin. Dublin Archbishop John Neill said the billboard would be offensive to most Christian people, while Paddy Power’s spokesperson said he doesn’t believe they pushed the boundaries and some people are taking it too seriously. In 2012 Paddy Power again used Jesus humorously in video ads during a scandal in the football industry and again had its ads removed and blocked.

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Paddy Power’s most recent mischievous campaign was during the 2014 World Cup. No doubt Paddy Power does a lot of business during the World Cup, taking in all of Europe’s bets on their favorite teams, but maybe this time they put out their ad to keep up their reputation rather than garner more publicity. Paddy joined up with Professor Stephen Hawking to calculate the optimal conditions for England’s success in the games. His predictions and the equations behind them were put into a video and posted online.

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Our team found Paddy Power most interesting because we don’t see these types of companies advertise much in the United States, let alone with these types of controversial campaigns. Can you think of any US brands that use these types of guerilla marketing? We instantly thought of the Quit Smoking campaign by YesQuit.org. Leave us a comment and let us know!

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