Good and Bad PR: Paddy Powers ahead this week
15th March 2017
For those of you who might not know just yet, it’s Cheltenham Race Week. Us Yetis are based in Gloucestershire, so we can’t escape it round these parts! Although I don’t frequent the racecourse at this time of year, there is one thing I always look forward to; and that’s finding out what Paddy Power have planned stunt-wise. In previous years, there’s been the Hollywood-style Paddy Power sign that popped up on the hill overlooking the track (my favourite) and other genius goings-on.
This year, the stunt took place in central London and attempted to fool passers-by into thinking they were seeing something that they really weren’t. Do you remember way back when those images of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin were revealed, showing him topless on horseback? Sorry to have to bring that image to mind again (if it wasn’t already burnt on to your retina), but this stunt has a lot to do with that.
Paddy Power marched a horse over Waterloo Bridge which, appeared to have President Putin riding it. The horse was led around various spots in London by another famous president, or so it seemed; a certain Donald Trump. They were actually two actors that Paddy Power had made to look like the two controversial world leaders, with the help of heavy makeup, prosthetics and Hollywood special-effect artists.
To tie this in with the Cheltenham Races, Paddy Power is offering punters the chance to bet on “Cheltenham-Politics” specials, including Ruby Walsh to be Top Jockey and Trump to be impeached in 2017 (odds of 8/1) and Willie Mullins to be Top Trainer and Trump to serve a second term (7/2).
It’s a great picture story and a brilliant idea from the Paddy Power PR team. So far, I’ve seen the story on the Daily Mirror website, the esteemed Horse & Hound mag and our local Gloucestershire Live website, with more sure to follow soon.
Another Cheltenham-based story makes its way into the column this week (and not just because I’m from round here, honestly). It has nothing to do with the races, either. I spotted a story on the Metro website about fashion brand Calvin Klein, and it’s definitely a negative one for the designer.
The pictures used to illustrate the story, and the problem, were of our local House of Fraser, Cavendish House in Cheltenham, and a Calvin Klein ad in the high-street window. The advert was to promote the brand’s underwear range, but the female model featured looked worryingly young to be the face of such an ad.
Calvin Klein and House of Fraser have since been forced to remove the adverts, as shoppers complained that the image sexualised children and that it was “erotic” and “provocative”. It’s still unclear how old the model used for this campaign was; although it’s thought that she is “at least 18”. Shoppers thought she looked more like a 12 year old though and people on Twitter reacted with anger to the advert.
The fact that the adverts have been removed so quickly does make me question whether Calvin Klein knew it was a risky approach to take. It isn’t the first brand to get into hot water over something like this, with the likes of American Apparel frequently angering people for the very same reason.
The story is up on The Sun now too and I’ll be keeping an eye on how this progresses over the day/week.