“Official sponsor of the largest athletics event in London this year. There you go, we said it. (Ahem, London France that is)”
A careful read of the advert will tell you that Paddy Power is sponsoring the egg and spoon race in the small French town bearing the same name of England’s capital. LOCOG, as you’d expect, hit the roof and, according to the Guardian, demanded that the company controling the space where the advert appeared remove all reference to it. However, Paddy Power is sticking to its guns and has sought a court order to stop LOCOG.
You’ll need to ask a lawyer to tell you who’ll win, but I’m always fascinated when companies take calculated risks like this. Let’s say that Paddy Power’s lawyers warned the marketing team that a fine of £50,000 would be inevitable. Chances are, the team would still go ahead: it’s notoriously difficult to put a value on press coverage, but few would deny that the increased profile would be worth it. Combine that with the consumer love that comes from confronting an unpopular behemoth such as LOCOG and it looks like a pretty good trade-off.
It’s not always as clear though: marketing execs at certain pharma companies are rumoured to factor the cost of lawsuits into their marketing budgets when they consider making bold claims about their products, and while Ryanair has made a habit of using deliberately provocative adverts (this one being a personal favourite), their benefit is debatable – the ads certainly get a lot of print coverage, but they also appear to alienate a lot of people. Plus, Ryanair looked terrible when they went crying to the ASA after Easyjet decided to give them a taste of their own medicine.
There are no unbreakable rules when it comes to this kind of thing, but it’s certainly a lot of fun to watch from the sidelines. As far as the Olympics are concerned, LOCOG seems to have its claws out in London, but only time will tell whether it’ll result in an ambush-free event. Initial signs aren’t good though – we’ve alreaday seen plenty of brands taking liberties, and Nike is planning an enormous marketing push at the same time of the Olympics. Watch and enjoy!