TV powers growth for Paddy Power

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 14.53.29The enduring power of TV advertising was trumpeted by Paddy Power's CMO, Gav Thomson, is a recent column in Marketing. "I'm not one of those doomsayers who loudly proclaims the death of TV," wrote Gav. "I know that TV is exceptionally strong at delivering enduring effects." Indeed, the betting firms' annual results are testament to these enduring effects, with sales up 18% to €882m, powered by an increase in UK TV share of voice from 5% to 15%. These results have helped Paddy Power's share price rise well ahead of competition, as reported here.

Here are some of the key points from Gav's column.

1. TV can stir emotions

Gave starts his column by stating his belief that TV "can evoke emotions more powerfully than any other." He quotes the Guinness "Surfer" ad as an example of a TV spot that created "something approaching advertising ‘shock and awe’ ".

And Paddy Power is certainly a brand that uses TV to evoke emotions to make an impact, through its controversial but highly impactful "We hear you" campaign. Each ad starts with a complaint that a real-life "punter" (customer) has posted on social media. It then goes on to show how Paddy Power would solve the problem. For example, an ad for the Cheltenham horse race meeting shows how Paddy Power proposes to respond to complaint of too many "chavs" (down market, orange-tanned rowdy people) spoiling the event. The ad generated extensive PR coverage both in press and social media. 

You can watch the ad below, or here, but it carries a bad taste health warning!

2. Follow the data, not fads

How refreshing it is to hear a CMO talk common sense about the role of TV versus social media and the need to follow empirical data, not fads: "I'm a big fan of TV. I don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bath water," says Gav. "I'm not into chasing the latest fad, just for the sake of it – or ignoring the empirical evidence in favour of something sexier but less accountable."

And the data shows how robust TV actually is. Despite what you might believe based on doomsayers' claims that it is a dying or even dead medium, Thinkbox data shows that UK TV viewing has been on an upward trend over the last 10 years (below left). "Yes, but what about Gen Z (15-24's)! They don't watch any TV!" Wrong. TV is still by far the biggest form of media consumption for this age group (below right)

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3. One brand, many channels

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 16.20.33Of course, "TV advertising isn't the only show in town," as Gav says. The brand's marketing is about amplifying content across many different channels, including the famous "stunts" the brand pulls off around major sporting events. For example, for the Euro 12 soccer tournament Paddy Power created and promoted a massive vuvuzela in response to this being banned by the tournament organisers. TV played a central role, by communicating the content to a wide audience during a major sports event. But as Gav says, the trick is to create "Great televisual content (that) will spill into more and more devices – and bounce from one screen to another".

And key to creating amplifying content across channels like Paddy Power is a clearly defined brand, as Gav explains: "Having a defined brand essence and such an unmistakable style and tone of voice helps enormously". 

4. Distinctiveness delivers results

Paddy Power's brand is not to everyone's taste, but boy does their distinctive form of "mischief marketing" pay off in terms of impact. Take the Euro 12 tournament mentioned above. Paddy Power had a 40% share of social media conversation, with 10 times the media coverage of Carlsberg, who paid a whopping £25 million to be the title sponsor! The efficiency of the brand's communication is shown by what Paddy Power claimed here lower marketing costs as a percentage of online net revenue (21%) versus rivals betting firms.

In conclusion, Paddy Power is great example of how distinctive TV communication can still play a central role in brand and business building in today's digital age.