Aside from taking to the skies above Medinah, Paddy Power has a history of cunning stunts. This includes our Uffington White Horse for Cheltenham and Euro 2012′s Roy the Redeemer. We love a bit of mischief, which sometimes involves paying heavy fines for footballers. Here’s a recap of some of our finest – and most controversial – moments.
Portugal may have finished 3-2 winners in their Euro 2012 Group B clash with Denmark in Lviv but Nicklas Bendtner enhanced his reputation with a brace of headers which kept his side in the game. And he happened to be wearing a pair of Paddy Power lucky pants as he did it.
We here on the Paddy Power Blog are not saying that Nicklas Bendtner scored twice because he was wearing his Paddy Power Lucky Pants but we’re definitely taking credit for the second one. Of course, the fact Serbia were fined less for their racist fans just makes Nicklas a saint in our eyes.
2. Grannies on a zebra crossing (2002) ↑
The most complained-about ad in the UK in 2002 depicted two old ladies crossing a road with odds bubbles above their heads. We were clearly betting on who would get across the road first. Some people got the impression that the menacing 4×4 in background meant we were betting on which of the grannies would be run over first. Lots of old people weren’t happy.
3. The sky’s the 140-character limit (2002) ↑
Paddy Power decided to take to the skies above the Medinah Country Club (USA) to deliver the world’s first ‘sky tweet’ campaign in support of Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup tournament. It wasn’t long before everyone at the course saw what was happening and Sky Sports started to broadcast the sky tweets live on air to viewers at home. It was so good the BBC repeated the tweets during their Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony on Sunday, December 16. Thanks, Beeb.
4. Hurls allowed (2003) ↑
Ireland is unique in having two Championships of professional standard played by amateurs every single year. We spotted a way of rewarding players that wasn’t in breach of any rules. We simply wrote Paddy Power on hurleys (see above). To say it caused consternation would be a massive understatement. The sponsorship was the subject of national debate to such an extent that we pulled it after just one game because it was interfering with players’ preparation for the biggest day of their lives.
5. Paddy goes to Rome (2005) ↑
We had been betting on who would be next Pope for a number of years, and when John Paul II was obviously very ill, interest in his successor soared. When Pope John Paul II died, there was a period of mourning in Rome and the world’s media were camped in Rome with nothing to talk about. We thought it would be a good idea to give them a story. So Paddy Power (pictured above) and Head of Mischief Ken Robertson packed their bags and jumped on a plane to Rome. They went straight to St Peter’s Square, set up a bookies stand and began shouting odds. There was huge interest from the public in Rome as everyone wanted to know who the bookies thought would be next Pope. The media caught the bug too and over the course of three days they were interviewed on more than 90 international TV networks. The highlight of the adventure was when Ken had a gun pulled on him by a member of the Italian Secret Service, he somehow managed to evade capture.
6. Sweet Jesus (2005) ↑
More religious stuff. Paddy Power causes a storm with an advertising campaign featuring Jesus and the apostles gambling at the Last Supper. The billboard posters were emblazoned with the slogan: ‘There’s a place for fun and games.’ It was adapted from Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of the Biblical story of the Last Supper and showed Jesus with a stack of poker chips and other chums playing cards and roulette. Sure, isn’t that what they were doing?
7. Tiger blows it (2009) ↑
It takes a special kind of company to turn what should have been our best ever golf result into our worst but that’s exactly what Paddy Power did with the USPGA in August. For some very questionable reason we took the unprecedented step of paying out over €1m to backers of Tiger Woods before the world number one teed off for round three of the USPGA. At that time of Tiger was four shots clear at the top of the leader board and was the bookies red-hot 1/5 favourite to win the final Major of the year. Unfortunately for us, Tiger failed to produce his trademark magic in the final two rounds resulting in our record breaking seven-figure cock-up, the biggest ever mistake of its kind.
8. Cat amongst the pigeons (2010) ↑
This TV ad showing a cat being kicked into a tree by a blind footballer was the most-complained-about UK advert of the year. Some people.
9. Cheltenham goes a bit Hollywood (2010) ↑
Paddy Power had a 50ft Hollywood-style sign erected on Cleeve Hill for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Tewkesbury Borough Council said the sign did not have planning permission. “We’re pretty excited about it, it’s probably going to be a bit of a tourist attraction for the area,” said Paddy, before being forced to remove the sign.
10. Ryder in a storm (2010) ↑
Paddy Power is forced again to take down another Hollywood-style sign next to Celtic Manor after losing a battle with Monmouthshire County Council during the Ryder Cup. PAH!
11. Gagged over Giggs (2011) ↑
Newspapers refuse to publish ads featuring former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas with a whistle, and wearing a Manchester United kit, next to the words: ‘Blow Me!’ The reality TV star was picked for the Paddy Power campaign after claims she had an affair with footballer Ryan Giggs.
12. Chav a go of this (2012) ↑
We ‘take care of the Chavs – veterinary style’ is revealed and becomes an internet sensation just one week after a Ladies’ Day advert for Cheltenham featuring transgendered actresses is pulled from TV.