Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has launched its campaign to keep football shirts sponsor-free following its PR stunt with Huddersfield Town FC.
Last week, Huddersfield players sported a controversial design of their kit for the 2019/20 season in a friendly against Rochdale. The most notable aspect of the new ensemble was the giant Paddy Power logo branded across the front like a sash.
While the football club was initially deemed a ‘laughing stock’, it didn’t take long for people to catch on to what Paddy Power was up to. Known for its mischievous marketing tactics, the public soon realised that this was a PR stunt- a claim that PaddyPower has now confirmed to be true.
The sponsorship branding was suspicious, not least because it broke the Football Association’s (FA) rules that shirt sponsor’s logos must fit into “One single area not exceeding 250 square centimetres on the front of the shirt.” However, the timing of the new deal was also questionable, given the recent crackdown on the regulation of gambling advertisements in the UK.
Following the introduction of the whistle-to-whistle ad ban and recent qualms over SkyBet’s ‘Request A Bet’ ad, it’s now clear that Paddy Power was in fact making a point about gambling advertisement. While the bookmaker is still sponsoring Huddersfield Town for the coming season, its brand logo does not feature on the actual version of the new kit, meaning Huddersfield are one of few British clubs to sport a sponsor-free strip.
However, this PR stunt wasn’t just launched in a bid to attract attention to the bookmaker. It comes as part of Paddy Power’s Save Our Shirt campaign, which aims to protect the sanctity of football shirts by removing brand logos from them. Scottish team Motherwell FC and Welsh side Newport County have also joined the campaign.
Paddy Power hopes the move will encourage other sponsors, particularly other gambling brands, to remove the logos on their sponsored teams’ jerseys. Paddy Power Marketing Director, Victor Corcoran, said that “sponsorship in football has gone too far. We accept that there is a role for sponsors around football, but the shirt should be sacred.”
The campaign is set to contribute to good causes. Paddy Power has donated part of its sponsorship to the Huddersfield Town Foundation and announced that there will be an amnesty outside the John Smith Stadium, where they will allow fans to exchange old branded kits for new unbranded versions. Huddersfield Town also auctioned the 15 ‘hoax’ shirts, which collectively reached £18,000 within 48 hours. The proceeds from this auction will go to three local charities.
Whether other football club sponsors will join Paddy Power in its bid to ‘save’ football shirts is yet to be seen. However, it’s clear that this self-proclaimed mischief-making gambling brand is continuing to make waves in the sporting space.