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Horsing Around

Horsing Around

09 April 2015 | Lloyd Hughes

It’s Grand National festival week, which means the bookies are clamouring over one another in a bid to be the punter’s bookmaker of choice. The competition is often stiff with bookie’s marketing departments being some of the best around. Indeed, Paddy Power has just awarded a new £20m marketing contract, which is a clear signal of the value it places on causing a stir. With Grand National week often being a part time bettor’s race meet of choice, it pays to be prominent if you want to be their first port of call.

This week the marketing team got stuck in, with Paddy Power taking its usual controversial approach. A storm erupted around a video that seemed to suggest top jockey Ruby Walsh had jumped his horse over a rapidly advancing Seat Leon. The short clip has been shot in the style of a handheld camera phone, with it looking like Ruby’s having a laugh in a field with his mates.

It’s clearly fake. The perspective has either been changed to suggest that the horse is jumping the car, when in actual fact it was jumping alongside it or the car wasn’t there at all and they’ve either amalgamated two separate videos or simply superimposed it. But this hasn’t stopped animal rights activists condemning it, which would’ve been music to Paddy Power’s ears.

It often amazes me that people don’t take this kind of thing with a pinch of salt, and realise they’re playing into the marketer’s hands. But Paddy Power knows who it’s targeting. Bettors won’t care, whilst hysterical animal rights activists are likely regarded as an irrelevance, only good for goading.

A 21 second video got the brand shedloads of national coverage in one of the busiest betting weeks of the year, so it’ll be rubbing its hands with glee at this one, as it takes first time and casual punters to the cleaners.