Some decent bear baiting

18 June 2018 | Lloyd Hughes

It’s happening.

Paddy Power on the blog…again.

This time for a top-notch World Cup centric PR stunt surrounding LGBT rights in Russia.

The bookmaker has long been a supporter of the LGBT community, most notably with its annual football focused rainbow laces campaign.

So, given Russia’s appalling record on LGBT rights, Paddy Power hasn’t been shy of sticking the boot into Putin and co’s homophobic outlook.

Mastercard recently undertook a disastrous World Cup PR stunt, where it offered to provide 10,000 South American children with a meal…every time Messi or Neymar scored.

Now, surely the issue with this campaign is obvious? Hungry children will be praying for Messi or Neymar to score a goal just so they can be fed….and if they don’t? Well, it’s back to begging on the street…


How this move got ratified is beyond me. Did no one in a senior position recognise the fact this was potentially leaving the hopes of starving children pinned on the success of footballers? Not to mention the pressure on Messi and Neymar. Some observers referred to it as ‘The Hunger Games’, while others pointed out that – if they can afford it – why not give them food anyway?

Joining with a charitable cause is a tried and tested method of generating good PR, so I can see where Mastercard was at least attempting to come from…but the execution of this attempt was extremely poorly thought out. In the end, Mastercard stopped the campaign, saying 1million children’s meals will be donated during 2018 irrespective of the number of goals scored.

On a similar theme, but with a different approach, Paddy Power has pledged to donate £10,000 to LGBT rights causes for every goal the Russian football team scores at the World Cup; thereby supporting a good cause while also sticking one in the eye of Russian homophobes.

With Russia’s opening game resulting in a 5-0 win, and given the fact the team isn’t exactly renowned on the world stage these days, I can only presume the brand’s financial department was slightly taken aback by such a comprehensive hammering.

Having committed to at least a £50,000 donation (if the team failed to score), and with that target already reached I’m sure PP is praying for a couple of goalless games to come!

Despite maybe having to dig deeper than initially anticipated, this campaign is doing everything that Mastercard’s isn’t. Getting people talking about an important topic and in the right way – without the risk of children going hungry.

So, good work yet again, Paddy Power, for demonstrating your usual prowess in the PR arena, while also having the bravery to taunt the Russian bear…a somewhat risky business.