Paddy Power sees an edgy and different brand as its best bet


MEDIA & MARKETING:When it comes to cut-through advertising and marketing, Paddy Power has few equals, writes SIOBHAN O'CONNELL

PADDY POWER chief executive Patrick Kennedy knew there was a bigger chance of Tiger Woods being invited to speak to the National Women’s Council of Ireland than accepting the bookies’ €55 million five-year sponsorship offer last March. But the bookie always wins. Woods might have turned down the opportunity, but the audacious publicity stunt garnered 56,000 articles on Google.

For this and other efforts, the Marketing Institute has named Kennedy as its All-Ireland Marketing Champion for 2010. The award was a bit odd insofar as Kennedy is an accountant, but he is in charge of a 30-strong marketing team.

When it comes to cut-through advertising and marketing, Paddy Power has few equals. Despite the recession, the gaming firm has increased its marketing spend in the past year, with TV spend being ramped up in Britain. One commercial airing in the UK shows a team of sight-impaired footballers accidentally kicking a cat into a tree. Despite the ad being approved by a vetting body, it attracted 400 complaints lodged to the Advertising Standards Authority.

Says Kennedy: “We are obsessed with ensuring that our brand remains edgy and different, not corporate and mainstream. Brand lifecycles are shorter today than ever before because everything happens more quickly. Always-on communication means that brands mature more swiftly, and therefore die more quickly. We are consumed with trying to ensure that our brand is relevant to 18- to 25-year-olds, as they are tomorrow’s consumers.”

He adds: “Here is the challenge. If your brand has been successful for 10 or 20 years, it’s a brand that the parents of the 18- to 25-year-old associate with, which has the inevitable default consequence of driving away their children. No sooner do we drive an industry-leading position on Facebook when signs emerge that the younger market is moving on because their parents are on it.”

Marketing graduates looking for work should take note when Kennedy points out that marketing online is increasingly about mathematics as well as creativity.

“Should the most creative or the smartest person in the company be head of marketing? Historically the answer to this question was easy. But today, for any online company, the importance of analytics is paramount. On the day of the Grand National there were 80,000 searches on Google for Paddy Power. The difference between a 5 per cent and 50 per cent click-through rate is enormous, and there are a lot of techniques to maximise that.” ********

Landing the job of the late Gerry Ryan on 2FM is the biggest prize right now in radio. In the latest radio ratings, covering April 2009 to March 2010, Ryan’s average audience was 296,000, a fall of 4 per cent year-on-year. Ryan Tubridy in RTÉ Radio 1 did better, growing his audience by 19,000 to 352,000, but The Late Late Showhost doesn’t have the same appeal to stay-at-home mums as Ryan did.

Says David Sneddon, managing director of ad agency Mindshare: “Ryan dominated the audience of housekeepers with children, with an audience of 136,000 in this demographic, which was 57,000 ahead of Ray Darcy on Today FM.

“In this important category for advertisers, Tubridy and Kenny average 75,000. Over at Newstalk, Tom Dunne has struggled to carve out a strong loyalty in this demographic, and has only 20,000 housekeepers-with-kids listeners.

“It’s that housekeeper demographic which is raising the most questions at the moment. Will 2FM retain these listeners, or will they tune in somewhere else?

“The battleground will be between the local stations and 2FM. This has been the one area [where] Ryan has seen serious competition over the past number of years, and where we should see increases for local morning shows such as Neil Prenderville on Cork’s 96.”

According to Mark Lynch, director of ad agency Vizeum: “The morning is the battleground for all radio stations. Housekeepers are one of the top three audiences bought by advertisers. Radio 1 is unique in that it manages to keep its listenership fairly solid through the morning and increase it again with Liveline. Anyone who takes over the Gerry Ryan slot will have to be liked by housekeepers.”