Top of the Month: Paddy Power's crusade to save our football shirts

Paddy Power is on a crusade to save football fans from the perils of betting firms sponsoring football kits. That a bookmaker would take on this cause is brave and clever; the execution is a masterclass in PR.

Top of the Month: Paddy Power's crusade to save our football shirts

Paddy Power realised it cannot compete with the budgets of foreign betting companies when it comes to sticking logos on football club kits in what is a heavily cluttered market.

It’s solution is to invest in ‘unsponsoring’, which positions the betting brand as a puritan among a pack of attention-grabbing thieves. The old adage 'if you can't beat the player, beat the game' is apt. 

So far Paddy Power has signed up five clubs to the cause – Huddersfield Town, Newport County, Motherwell FC, Southend United and Macclesfield Town – which gives the campaign a good geographic footprint across the UK and positions Paddy Power as a brand for 'proper' football fans in 'proper' football leagues.

The way Paddy Power and its agency partners VCCP and Octagon executed the campaign was genius.

Designing a hideous sash-style logo across the Huddersfield kit (pictured above) was an intentional ploy to turn heads and get chins wagging – and several back page editors took the bait.

In fact, the execution was so convincing that even the FA waded in and officials from Huddersfield Town FC – who were obviously in on the hoax – were starting to fret.

However, the shock and awe tactic delivered more press coverage than just about any shirt sponsor stunt PRWeek can remember.

The bad press created hype and gave the 'Save Our Shirt' message real potency when Huddersfield revealed it was all a big lie and Paddy Power were actually the good guys.

Some fans might feel like they were the butt of a cruel joke, but Paddy Power has them covered. It will allow fans to swap their old Hudderfsfield tops for a shiny new one without a massive logo on the front.

There have been two quite funny digital videos rolled out to continue the campaign's momentum.

In the shirt sponsorship stakes, Paddy Power has certainly dominated pre-season but the real challenge will be keeping the buzz going throughout the season. 

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