Paddy Power: Beyond Sky Tweets

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Prior to the beginning of the 2012 Ryder Cup, American golf captain Davis Love III stoked the flames for a fiery confrontation by encouraging US fans to deliver the loudest frenzy ever seen at the tournament. With this firmly in mind, Irish bookmaker and ‘betting services’ brand Paddy Power embarked on an audacious plan to redress the balance for Team Europe, and get the public to cheer for it.

Ambush marketing was on the cards for Paddy Power, which wanted to build on its already formidable reputation as a fun and mischievous brand by creating intrigue and a sense that something big was happening with the Ryder Cup. The brand also wanted to add ‘spice’ to the clash between Europe and the US, around the competition. The challenge was to create a real time campaign which would transfer European fans’ support over to Chicago. 


Paddy Power realised it needed to reach an active social media audience rather than just a traditional golf audience. Also, through research it was revealed that the campaign would do better if it was socially enhancing instead of only being disruptive.


The idea was to utilise a fleet of acrobatic planes to create the world’s highest and largest tweets printed in the sky through skywriting, to show European support and to take jibes at American golfers. A few ‘Help a yank to shank’ tweets were relayed in real time and displayed high across the Chicago skyline, visible for over 20 miles.

The key to the success of the campaign was to ensure that there was sufficient activity on Twitter using the Paddy Power promoted hashtag ‘#Go Europe’.  TV was the clear choice as the main driver for the campaign for two crucial reasons.  Firstly, it had to build awareness of the stunt amongst a core, highly targeted audience extremely quickly. In addition to that, it understood the advantage of using TV to act as a catalyst for online conversations – crucial in order to bring the stunt to life.

A special ‘Help a yank to shank’ TV copy was created specifically and was shown exclusively in the second day’s live Ryder Cup coverage throughout the duration of the day’s play.  The success of the TV campaign relied on secrecy and extremely short lead times (not to mention the weather forecast) and M2M worked closely with their partners at Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Sky Media to ensure they were able to place the adverts at exactly the right time for maximum impact.


From an initial media results perspective, the promoted trend on Twitter delivered 18 million impressions (2.5 x the Twitter norm) over the weekend on which the campaign ran, with a 21% engagement rate. The promoted tweets on Twitter delivered 171,000 impressions and a total of nearly 30,000 clicks. The #GoEurope creation on Twitter received 65,500 mentions, and #GoEurope was adopted not only by fans but also sports celebrities including Gary Lineker and Austin Healy.

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