One thing is for sure – it has us all talking!
Was this the obvious objective when Paddy Power cobbled together their latest advertising stunt?
Just in case you have missed it, Paddy Power are taking bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trail against his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. They caused outrage initially by offering odds on the outcome of the premeditated murder trial – 7/4 for a guilty verdict and 2/5 for not guilty.
Not only does this stunt interfere and shape public opinion about the verdict of the court case, there was also an immediate public reaction with many Twitter users branding the gimmick ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting’.
Paddy Power then took things even further, by offering losing bets a refund if the 27-year-old is found not guilty. This “no lose” offer for customers was featured heavily on newspaper adverts adding even further fuel to this controversial fire, demonstrating that Paddy Power didn’t really care about the negative public and media reaction.
Not only has Twitter been on fire about the issue but newspapers and radio have given the “bet” extra momentum through extensive negative coverage.
On national radio, RTE Liveline, Paddy Power defended the move to take bets on the trial: “This is the biggest profile trial that has ever been. It’s the only topic of conversation around the world. It’s to provide customers with the opportunity to bet on something that everyone is talking to.”
It sounds as if they are doing us all a huge favour by allowing us to take bets on such an event – are we that desperate?
The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK have already reacted though their official Twitter account: “We’re fast tracking a formal investigation into the Paddy Power ‘Oscar Pistorius‘ ad. No need to lodge a complaint, we’re looking into it” .
There is also a campaign running on change.co with 117,000 people already (at the time of writing) who have signed a petition to Patrick Kennedy, MD of Paddy Power to “please remove your offensive betting on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial and donate any profits so far to a women’s charity fighting violence against women“
Despite all of this the Paddy Power adverts continue to run and the company defends them under the heading of “customer service”.
The horrible truth is this is a huge awareness victory for Paddy Power, way beyond the cost of the adverts or any payouts for winning bets. Sadly the bigger a storm we make of the issue the more attention we draw to Paddy Power and the more traffic will be pushed towards their website.
If this negative publicity was deemed to be damaging to the Paddy Power reputation you can be assured it would be retracted immediately but I am guessing that the view from within the company is that the publicity is good because the belief is that the target betting audience isn’t that bothered.
The women’s groups and the general public can be outraged all they want but as long as the campaign helps the company to attract the betting fraternity this is one of those times when any publicity is good publicity.
However, while the campaign appears as a clever win for Paddy Power it does leave a bitter after-taste, which in the long run could undermine the brand alongside the flawed Olympic star who at one point could do no wrong.