Steve White

The best social media campaign of the year? You bet on it!

Recently I had a quite splendid weekend. Not only did I spend most of it in my comfy pants, but I spent it watching hour after hour of simply amazing sporting action. The Cricket World Cup, Arsenal v Chelsea, Manchester United v Spurs (my team) and the 39th Ryder Cup… I was literally in my element! My Mrs wasn’t overjoyed but Strictly Come Dancing is back on very shortly, so she will undoubtedly have her revenge!

What makes sports so blooming marvellous is its unpredictability. Its ability to shock and surprise and this is exactly what this weekend was all about.

Surprise Number 1. Torres started to look like a half decent striker again and scored a goal. It was only against Arsenal, but a goal is a goal!

Surprise Number 2. Spurs beat Utd at Old Trafford for the first time in 23 years. I was just 10 years old the last time we managed that! That bloke with the big ears who now sells crisps on the TV scored the winning goal.

Surprise Number 3. Europe fought back against the USA from 10-4 down to win the 39th Ryder Cup.

However, the biggest surprise of the weekend was Surprise Number 4. As I was watching this sporting weekend unfold, I witnessed one of the best social media campaigns of the year from Irish bookmaker Paddy Power.

Leading up to the weekend I had seen a TV commercial from Paddy Power, who expressed their concern that the US biased crowds at the Ryder Cup could potentially be off-putting to our European golfing heroes. So Paddy Power proposed a plan of action, they asked the audience to tweet a message of support to #GOEUROPE in the hope that this might ‘help a Yank to shank!’ Intriguingly, they also promised that Team USA would receive the best tweets, but how?!

Well this is where the genius of this social media campaign came in.

As the golfers gathered at the first tee, 5 stunt pilots began writing tweets sent by members of the British public in the sky above the course. The visual impact this created was amazing, as apparently this could be seen for 20 miles. Obviously the tweets of support created a buzz across the course with the European golfers laughing, pointing to the skies and even taking photos of the supportive tweets. Whereas, the US Captain, Davis Love III, could be seen talking to people in an attempt to have the skywriting stopped!

“DO IT FOR SEVE. #GOEUROPE”
“WE STILL BELEIVE. #GOEUROPE”
“RORY’S GONNA GETCHA. #GOEUROPE”
“TIGER LOVES A BIT OF ROUGH. #GOEUROPE”

As you might expect, the media picked up on this in a big way and the newspapers and TV covered the story. So quite simply, Paddy Power achieved everything they could possibly have hoped for by running this campaign. The European golfers appreciated it, the US golfers didn’t, the European TV audience of millions would have had a giggle and, most, importantly they generated lots and lot of press coverage.
This was quite simply a stunning campaign, combining social media with TV to create unprecedented awareness that would have exposed the Paddy Power brand to millions!

It’s not the first time Paddy Power has showcased their ability to push the boundaries in their attempt for media exposure. Only this year they found themselves in hot water when they piggybacked on the London Olympics with a billboard campaign promoting its “official” sponsorship of a competition in London, France.

They also struck PR gold, when Danish Striker Niklas Bendtner flashed a pair of Paddy Power branded pants after scoring a goal in the Euros. Not only did this earn Mr Bendtner a fine for flouting endorsement rules but it also created lots of free coverage for the bookmaker.
I wonder what Paddy Power have planned for the 4oth Ryder Cup.