Campaign: Papal Betting Client: Paddy Power PR team: In-house Timescale: 10-20 April Budget: Less than £1,000
Paddy Power is the largest provider of fixed-odds sports betting in Ireland, boasting more than 140 licensed betting offices, the country's largest telephone betting operation and an online business.
Following its launch in the UK, Paddy Power has also become London's fastest-growing bookmaker, with group turnover last year surpassing EUR1bn (£687m).
Betting on Pope John Paul II's successor had been open across Paddy Power's platforms for more than five years by the time the pontiff died in April. The in-house PR team wanted to capitalise on speculation around who would be the next pope to publicise its novelty betting.
To use betting on the next pope to establish Paddy Power as the market leader for novelty betting and attract new customers.
Strategy and Plan
To establish Paddy Power as an informal indicator of John Paul II's possible successor, the PR team assembled a 24-hour press office to handle media enquiries.
Head of communications, the bizarrely appropriate Paddy Power, flew to Rome for interviews with journalists from all over the world that were stationed in the city. It was hoped that Power's presence would help his company become the choice bookmaker for the media.
Back in London, media desks were told about the campaign and where and when to find Power. A continual stream of photos was sent electronically between the Italian and British capitals in an effort to attract media interest in the bookmaker's stance on the election of the next pope.
The team particularly targeted its novelty-betting story at broadcaster CNN (for global coverage) and the Daily Star (for articles in the UK).
Measurement and Evaluation
More than 100 news articles around the world mentioned the bookmaker, while Power conducted more than 70 interviews for international TV and radio. Coverage included pieces in the Washington Post and Racing Post, and on ITV and the BBC.
More than 10,000 bets from punters in 35 countries were placed in the fortnight prior to the appointment of Pope Benedict XVI, giving Paddy Power a turnover of EUR200,000 (£138,000).
'It was about the only one taking votes on the next pope, so it pretty much had the field to itself,' says Racing Post sports editor Bruce Millington. 'Paddy Power always looks to publicise itself like this - we ran a feature on our back page.'