Paddy Power, unsure of its identity, enters phase of corporate puberty

Bookmaker announces record profits but still can’t make up its mind to get serious

Premium branding? Ukip’s Nigel Farage takes part in a Paddy Power campaign during the Ryder Cup

Premium branding? Ukip’s Nigel Farage takes part in a Paddy Power campaign during the Ryder Cup

 

Puerile Paddy Power plans to remain an “edgy” brand, according to the bookmaker’s new chief executive, Andy McCue. Will it ever grow up? I reckon the company is in the throes of corporate puberty, caught between its attention-grabbing childishness and a desire to be taken seriously by grown-ups.

The company announced record profits this week, as well an intention to return about €390 million to shareholders. Grown-up stuff, that, the sort that endears Paddy to the serious types who play the stock market.

When Catherine Colloms joined the company in 2013 as its head of corporate affairs, she indicated a desire for it to become known for more than its stunts, which include dressing Daft Punk in green underpants at the 2014 Brit Awards.

“The consumer brand is so strong, it can dwarf everything else,” she said at the time. “We want the corporate brand to compete with the consumer brand.”

She wanted it to have a “premium corporate reputation” like Waitrose or John Lewis. But can you imagine Waitrose putting a grinning Nigel Farage in pink trousers on the front page of its corporate results presentation?

The release issued to the markets contained references to Taylor Swift’s love life, and to David Moyes and Stephen Hawking. This was funny, undoubtedly, but hardly consistent with the corporate brand strategy enunciated by Colloms in 2013.

I submitted a few questions to Colloms about this apparent discrepancy.

She replied with a most un-Paddy-like corporate response: “We are focused on deepening the distinctiveness of our brand . . . Our marketing will increasingly highlight . . . new and original product while delivering a more uniquely PP brand experience through all customer touch points and capitalising on our leadership in social media engagement.”

As they might say on social media, wtf? Make up your mind, Paddy, po-faced or puerile?

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