They wanted to draw attention to the fact that despite 2 million people being at risk of gambling addiction in the UK, 59% of football clubs are sponsored by gambling brands. Not only does this raise questions about links between the gambling industry and football, but it also means fans who buy shirts are effectively acting as unpaid billboards to promote it.
Even though they’re a betting and gaming operator themselves, Paddy Power could see the absurdity of the situation – and wanted to challenge it. They decided to take a stand and help reform their industry.
How? By doing the unexpected.
Stage one of the campaign saw them outdoing – and outbranding – their competition. They launched a new kit for Huddersfield Town that featured an over-the-top, hen-do style design. There was an immediate outrage by both fans and press with commentators claiming it signaled “the death of football”.
Although some smelled a rat, and suggested it was a stunt, the mood changed when the Football Association got involved. Suddenly this was serious.
Or was it? The decision was made to play along and let everyone sweat for 48 hours.
Then the real kit was revealed. Completely unsponsored. This coincided with the launch of #saveourshirt online, on TV and in print. People started questioning their roles in promoting brands they had no affinity with – while paying for the pleasure of wearing their logos emblazoned across their chests.
Not putting the Paddy Power logo on shirts got far more publicity than if we had. That move effectively returned Huddersfield Town’s sacred shirts to their rightful owners – the fans. Before long other fans were calling on their clubs to save their shirts.
By playing with convention the campaign reached
743 M media impressions,
13.2 M interactions
and shirt demand increased by 1904%.
Best of all, the government called for a review of the gambling law, quoting the Paddy Power stunt. As Paddy Power would say, “enough of the nonsense”.