This week on Pop the Trunk, host Adam interviews Lee Price, Head of PR and Mischief at Paddy Power on his favourite campaigns, how to know when you’ve crossed the line, and creating fame for your brand using mischief. Trunk and Paddy Power have worked together previously on campaigns like ‘Slap Election’ in the past, which added a gamification element to Paddy’s usual cheeky humour.
Describing himself as a ‘professional attention seeker’, Lee’s been heading up the PR team at Paddy Power since 2016. He’s worked on campaigns like the infamous Save our Shirt – when Huddersfield Town unveiled that stylish new kit, sash and all, as well as managing to get Russia to donate £170,000 to LGBTQ+ charities in 2018 … sort of. With a wealth of experience in creating brand campaigns that resonate, Lee joined us to offer his best advice on how brands can use a little mischief in their strategy – and how not to overdo it.
When it comes to adding mischief to your marketing, the key is to make sure that you have personality at the heart of it. It’s not enough to pull stunts and hope they land – you need to know your audience, what they want to see, and ultimately be ready for any potential backlash. Lee notes that ‘brands sometimes take a step into a new world, and they misjudge it. They get carried away, sign off the wrong ideas, and when the shit hits the fan, they panic. Sometimes it’s okay for Twitter to be angry at you!’
It’s tricky for brands to create campaigns that are intended to cause a stir, particularly if they’re afraid of crossing the line. As Adam points out, creating great campaigns isn’t about just dipping your toe – you need to be big, bold, and prepared to take risks if you want to stand out. Paddy Power are one of the most famous examples of this, with PR campaigns regularly hitting the news and causing havoc. Creating these campaigns requires a fair bit of forward planning, and an expert team to deal with any backlash.
‘It’s about having a thick skin. A good example is the Save our Shirt campaign – the horrendous Huddersfield Town sponsorship. The crux of the campaign was the backlash, we planned and hoped for it,’ Lee says, ‘We always try and say okay, we know what we’re doing, we know where the line is – what’s the best case scenario and what’s the worst case scenario? How do we mitigate it in each instance?’
Planning ahead, then, is the best way to make sure you’re prepared for any bold campaigns. If you’re willing to put yourself out there, then you need to be sure that you’ve imagined your campaign from every angle, and prepped your marketing team (or your poor social media team) on how it’s going to be received.
Lastly, we quizzed Lee on some of his favourite campaigns for Paddy Power – up there was Save our Shirt, a documentary series for the CONIFA World Cup, and the Rainbow Russians campaign – where for every goal Russia scored in the 2018 World Cup, Paddy Power donated £10k to LGBTQ+ charities.
‘It sums up what we’re actually about. I think people think we’re a loud, brash, offensive brand – which we’ve been in the past – but that piece of work was smart, considered, maybe audacious, so I loved that.’
‘I may or may not have forwarded that press release to every Russian diplomat whose email address I could find online.’
Can’t wait to hear more? The next episode of Pop the Trunk features Carlsberg’s Emily Grafton, discussing how the on-trade industry will be handling a very different Christmas in 2020. Don’t miss it!
Follow Lee: @Lee_Price
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