A week ago, news broke that bookmaker Paddy Power has entered the world of shirt sponsorships, having been signed by Huddersfield Town for the 2019/2020 season. The “deal” turned out to be a hoax spread by the bookmaker itself.
The real deal is that Paddy Power has launched a campaign, lobbying brands to keep their kits commercially clean. Dubbed “Save Our Shirt”, the campaign is the result of months of planning between the bookmaker and the football club, with help from creative agency VCCP.
When the fake deal was announced last week, Huddersfield Town revealed their supposed kit, which included a sash covering the front of their shirt, with the Paddy Power logo on it. Many people familiar with how Paddy Power works were dubious, thinking it was so unlike Paddy Power to sponsor any football team. It turns out they were right to doubt the news.
Asked about the reason for the hoax, Paddy Power PR Head Lee Price told Marketing Week: “Every bookmaker, apart from Paddy Power it seemed, sponsors a football team and they’ll just lazily put their brand on there. Our tagline is ‘Enough of the Nonsense’ and we’re calling bullshit on football sponsorship generally, but the rest of the industry too. It wouldn’t be Paddy Power just to stick our logo on there.”
“These things are almost beyond parody and that’s why we went for the big sash, because we actually think, ‘would you really be surprised if that happened in the future? No you wouldn’t’. That’s why we’re calling bullshit on it,” Price added. “The Save Our Shirt campaign, which is going to go on and on, is really important to us because we think it’s a genuine issue and we wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t a true insight. We’re about more than just a quick Twitter storm and that will play out in the coming days and weeks.”
But not everything in last week’s news about Paddy Power and Huddersfield was a hoax. Huddersfield Town confirmed that they did, in fact, sign Paddy Power up as a sponsor, although fans won’t see any branded logo anywhere in their real kit. As part of their joint campaign, Paddy Power representatives will stand outside Huddersfield’s first home game to take back older branded shirts from fans and exchange them with the new, unbranded version.
Paddy Power knew the strategy they were about to launch would result in some backlash, which is why they were very careful in looking for the right club to partner with. They had conversations with a number of clubs, but it was only Huddersfield Town that completely embraced the campaign. The most significant backlash they’ve had to face so far is a complaint from the Football Association (FA) regarding a possible breach of sponsorship rules.
Price has this to say about Huddersfield Town: “It became apparent very quickly that they would be an ideal partner for this and that’s why we’re working with them. It’s all very good talking the talk, but they’ve really had to walk the walk this week. The FA stuff, which neither side saw coming, has got heavy at times but they’ve always remembered what the campaign is about: delivering their fans a shirt to be proud of.”