Cannes Lions

Save Our Shirt

MEDIACOM, London / PADDY POWER / 2020

Awards:

1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Background

Gambling addiction is a significant problem in the UK - more than 2 million people are either problem gamblers or at risk of addiction. Meanwhile, the betting brands themselves are addicted to football sponsorship. Almost 60% of the UK’s top football clubs have betting brands on their shirts: fans have become walking billboards for betting.

While all the other betting brands used sponsorship to take, take, take, Paddy Power wanted to be the one to give back to the fans and change the industry for good. Being the last of its competitors to the party, Paddy had to do something radical to get attention, engage fans, and give them a reason to think twice about football sponsorship.

And, we knew there was one asset that fans value above all else. The football shirt.

Strategy

The target audience: football fans, mad about their club.

Approach: a big impact was needed upfront in order to break through the clutter of pre-season ads and transfer news. So, we decided to stir the pot by exploiting the medium we wished to save - the sacred football shirt.

So, we reached out to progressive clubs across the UK, co-opting Huddersfield Town as our anchor, together with four other teams with a history of fan activism; Motherwell, Macclesfield Town, Southend United and Newport County. Huddersfield had an enviable heritage having been the first English club to win three league titles on the trot, but were now suffering from recent relegation from the EPL.

With these partners we could optimise our reach, be targeted with our media and ultimately position the campaign as a purposeful movement, not just a tactical partnership.

Execution

We launched a horrendously-branded fake kit on social to spark debate about the gambling industry & sponsorship, & amplified the fall out with reactive content from a network of creators & influencers.

Then, that evening Huddersfield players wore the sponsored shirt for an official game against Rochdale, and were greeted by boos and demands for the kit to be banned. The FA launched an investigation. Meanwhile, negative sentiment escalated for two uncomfortable days. Even the BBC reported it as ‘the death of football’.

At the height of the meltdown the ‘#SaveOurShirt’ campaign was launched across TV, social, OOH & press, and the ‘unsponsored’ kit was unveiled. Four more ‘unsponsorships’ were announced and a shirt amnesty set up where fans could exchange old shirts for logo-free editions. And, for the fans that weren’t part of the deal we produced a Snapchat lens so they could view their shirts without a logo.

Outcome

Campaign results:

44% increase in awareness in four weeks - 104% beyond any competitor (YouGov study)

Over 100% increase in brand awareness overall (YouGov study)

Brand mentions on social up 700% (Brandwatch)

Brand Consideration leapt up by 600% in just 11 days (YouGov)

13,200,000 social engagements (Brandwatch)

743,000,000 impressions (Brandwatch)

Top-two trending terms on Twitter due to the stunt and kit launch.

Earned media value in 10s of millions, with a paid media and sponsorship outlay of under £2m

Business Results:

New customers up 15% (Paddy Power)

Retention of new customers up 16% (Paddy Power)

70% increase in Huddersfield shirt sales (Source: Lovethesales.com)

Huddersfield’s shirt is 6th hottest shirt this season [2019] (Source: Lovethesales.com)

Impact:

The fake shirts became a collector’s item, charity shirt auctions raised £30k

EPL club Everton publicly announced ‘regret’ over its betting shirt sponsor, SportPesa.

UK Sports Minister announced a review of the 2006 Gambling Act

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