When Paddy Power’s marketing team attack any subject controversy is never too far away. The announcement that they’d teamed up with leading gay rights charity Stonewall for an anti-homophobia campaign was no different.
According to Paddy Power’s website Right Behind Gay Footballers is “designed to kickstart a fundamental change in attitude” within the game. Players from all 134 professional teams in the United Kingdom have been challenged to show their support for gay footballers by wearing specially supplied rainbow laces during this weekend’s fixtures.
Unsurprisingly much of the consternation lies in the name, with the bookmaker accused of trivialising homophobia by adopting such a crude slogan.
So, have Paddy Power backed a winner or have they spectacularly misjudged the mood?
The choice of name is a deliberately provocative one but it works. It’s in line with Paddy Power’s fun, fair and friendly brand values while adding to the mischief-maker persona the organisation has worked so hard to cultivate. Rather than adopt a more tactful approach, which may turn their core audiences off, they’ve stuck to using the language they know garners a response.
And guess what? The audience has responded. Since the campaign hit the headlines on Sunday there have been over 24,000 mentions of #RBGF on Twitter, a figure you can expect to increase several times over as supporters play spot the rainbow laces this coming weekend.
As well as the backing of Stonewall, garnering the support of stars like Joey Barton and David Meyler (along with a host of other celebrities) very early on has also given a credibility to RBGF that would’ve been sorely lacking had Paddy Power launched it without any name players associated. Faces lend a legitimacy to the campaign.
The debate about the appropriateness of the slogan will continue, however I get the feeling the success of this campaign is already assured.