Paddy Power’s polar bear controversy helps its Ad Awareness rocket

Amelia BrophyHead of Data Products, UK
July 23, 2018, 9:34 AM GMT+0

As the dust settles on another memorable World Cup tournament, it’s a great time to assess which betting brands achieved the greatest cut-through with their marketing efforts over the past month or so.

While England have once again won back the hearts and minds of the nation, helping pubs up and down the country feel the benefit of increased takings, the competition was naturally a huge earner for bookmakers.

However, as always, the battle to stand out was intense and as competitive as ever. Betting brands tried a variety of strategies. Some roped in heroes of England’s past, others chose a more controversial path.

YouGov BrandIndex points to one brand that at the very least, has been noticed over the past six weeks. Paddy Power’s Ad Awareness score (whether someone has seen or heard an advert for a brand over the previous two weeks) grew significantly over the past month or so. Our data indicates a rise of 8 percentage points, from +11 to +19. This was the largest rise among any betting brand that YouGov tracks.

Among those that regularly gamble, Paddy Power’s score is even more impressive. Its rating among those that place a bet online at least once every six months grew from +30 to +45 over the same time period. Again, this is the highest score and rise we noted among any gambling company.

Other brands to achieve notable rises in Ad Awareness score among the general public include Ladbrokes and William Hill. The former achieved an uplift of six points, from +10 to +16, while the latter saw its score move from +8 to +12.

One would normally say that this is great news for Paddy Power, but of course, as is so often the case with the brand, there is controversy attached. The bookmaker ran several campaigns both pre-tournament and during it too.

One advert features a Russian speaking man approaching a polar bear, which is then subsequently emblazoned with the St George Flag and Paddy Power branding. The company took out a full front page ad in the Metro, with the caption reading ‘England ‘til I Dye’ beneath the image. The advert was widely shared, particularly across social media, however it did attract a decent amount of criticism, with the most outraged describing the spot as ‘idiotic’. The brand has responded by saying the idea was a collaboration with the NGO Polar Bears International (and that the cross was faked).

Elsewhere, the brand also pledged to donate £10,000 to LGBT causes for every goal score by host country Russia. This turned out to be costly as the team demolished group rivals Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening game of the tournament.

Naturally, this campaign created headlines – and this is reflected in our data. Paddy Power emerged as the betting brand with the biggest Attention score (whether you have heard anything positive or negative about a brand over the past two weeks) across the tournament. Among the general public its score moved from +5 to +9.

With both these campaigns in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that Paddy Power’s Impression score went up and down during the last couple of months. At its lowest point, its score decline to -24, with the tournament ending with its highest point (-14).

All in all, Paddy Power has once again shown how effective it’s ‘mischief making’ can be. Our data underlines how it has managed to differentiate itself from its closest rivals this time around.

Image: Paddy Power

This article originally appeared in EGR Magazine

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