This is the story of one brand’s role in what became known to the world as the ‘Miracle in Medinah’. A campaign that for under £500k reached 500m people on worldwide TV, infuriated the Governor of Illinois, won the awe and support of global superstars and silenced a nation. It is the story of how Paddy Power, a betting company, mobilised the British public to inspire the heroes of a continent to lift their heads up when all hope was lost. A story of how they helped Europe win the greatest prize in world golf - The Ryder Cup.
Paddy Power’s aim is to take consumers money but entertain them in the process. They believe in giving ‘Power to the Punter (customer)’ - listening to the voice of the Punter and give ridiculously over the top responses in return. They are anti-establishment, they fight for what they and Punters believe is wrong within sport, and they do it with humour and passion.
This story thus began when American Captain Davis Love III stoked the flames for a fiery confrontation, stirring up U.S fans to deliver the loudest show of support ever seen. With the tournament being played at Medinah in Chicago, the Europeans would be up against it. The marketing challenge for the agencies involved was simple - to redress the balance for Europe. It was a strategy that would require balls of steel.
Paddy Power punters care hugely about the Ryder Cup. Like Wimbledon and tennis, it is the event that attracts the broadest possible support and passion for the game. They also knew that when Davis Love III was rallying the Americans, he was annoying Europeans. There is not a golfer the world over that would not want to play in the Ryder Cup and with the stakes and temperature rising, Paddy punters were desperate to do all they could to help the European team. They wanted to quash American bravado before it damaged the European team mentally.
The strategy was to help them do just this. The agency leveraged traditional, social and wholly original media to make the punters The Extra Man in the European team. It was an approach that didn’t just deliver a media first, it led to an epic World Record.
Paddy Power knew the US crowd would dominate the support on the ground at Medinah, Curb Media's idea was to rule the skies above it. If all hope seemed lost, they would encourage Europe to look to the skies, smile and fight on.
It was a strategy riddled with complications that had to be shrouded in secrecy or the impact would have been at best lost, at worse shut down. Clouds alone would have derailed the plan, let alone the complication of working across continents, or as it turned out, the state Governor. Multiple teams worked round the clock, across borders. Old and new media was unified in real time, live on air, enabling punters to see their influence direct on the faces of sporting legends and hundreds of thousands of American fans as our campaign unfolded 10,000 feet above Chicago. What the agency did not know in advance was just how dramatic the effects would be.
On day one of the Ryder Cup, Europe finished behind 5-3. Heads were down, spirits low. The American crowd were doing their job. On the morning of day two, before theUSawoke, press ads hit theUKcalling for punters to ‘help a yank to shank’ by sending tweets of support with the hashtag #GoEurope. As play resumed, the Americans extended their lead to 10 -4, a lead never before overcome in the history of the game. One requiring Europe to win 10½ from the next 14 points available. The situation could not have been worse. The US crowd were rampant. As more tuned in to watch, M2M ran TV ads further calling for tweets of support. Finally, as the social support rolled in, 7 stunt planes flying 10,000 feet above the course embarked on the world’s first ever sky tweet campaign at the pivotal moment when all hope looked lost.
Players, fans and officials immediately took note. Rory Mcilroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell started filming them on the their phones and sharing the story online. Five birdies in a row from Ian Poulter later and José María Olazábal, the Captain of Europe, was on global TV thanking the sky.
At the start of the final day, the US still led 10-6. It seemed an impossible task, but as play began and more tweets flowed, the planes took off again. The message was clear - when all hope seems lost, look up to the sky and smile.
On the final day the impact was huge. The US reportedly asked state officials to stop the planes, but M2M were filling the sky with punter’s own humour and support the world could see online.
Using technology, created by Curb Media, that translated tweets into letters larger than the tallest of London skyscrapers, the campaign was unmissable from 20 miles around. 500m Europeans saw them on TV. Rory Mcilroy’s uploaded video of a skytweet that said `Rory’s gonna getcha` has been viewed 43k times on YouTube, while his 1.5m followers saw his tweets. The activity delivered over 173 news articles, 68k social mentions, 2k new Twitter follows and over 5k Facebook fans.
A promoted trend delivered 10m impressions (2.5 x Twitter’s norm) with a staggering 21% engagement rate. Promoted tweets delivered 171k impressions and 30k clicks (8.9%). #GoEurope was adopted wholesale by punters, fans and celebrities, becoming a top trend on Twitter. The tweets reached 31m people in total and broke a Guinness World Record for scale. The skytweet covered 70m square foot of sky.
As Tiger Woods stood on the final green and the last of 55 messages hovered above, he crumbled and the ‘Miracle in Medinah’, a miracle in media, was complete.
Click here to view an interview on the Wall Street Journal with Curb Media's Anthony Ganjou and for behind-the-scenes footage.