With the 2012 Ryder Cup in the US on the horizon, Irish betting firm Paddy Power spotted a great opportunity to achieve its ambition of growing its business online.
But it faced a challenge: how do you use an offline, physical event to engage fans in the online space? And how do you get any exposure at all, when the event is dominated by big-budget sponsors?
With a budget of just £150,000, the company devised a mischievous strategy that bypassed traditional media and brought social media – quite literally – to the playing field. It created the world’s first ever sky-tweet campaign.
To bring the concept to life, Paddy Power hired five stunt planes to fly at 10,000ft above the Medinah Country Club golf course and sky-write 60 tweets of support over the course of two days. The messages were visible not only across a 20-mile radius but also to the 500 million TV viewers watching the tournament. The tweets were deliberately cheeky, such as "Mrs Dufner is hot" (referring to the wife of a US player).
The campaign trended on Twitter over the course of the competition, while Paddy Power grew its Twitter followers by 25,000 and Facebook followers by more than 5,000. The stunt helped generate more revenue for Paddy Power than any previous competition in the company’s 24-year history.
"A clever idea that was impossible not to talk about – on social media, TV, online, in print and even on the course. The PR and commercial objectives were met and the event oozed the brand’s core value of mischief"
Joel Morris Director of public affairs and comms, Coca-Cola