Paddy Power's €1m World Cup deal with Suarez killed by biting
Plan to reveal branded mouthguard on TV
Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30
Patrick Kennedy's €2.5bn valued bookmaker Paddy Power offered controversial Uruguay and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez €1m to wear a special branded mouth guard during a high profile World Cup match watched by hundreds of millions of television viewers.
The daring marketing stunt would have seen Suarez reveal that he was wearing the green, branded Paddy Power mouth guard as television cameras filmed the teams singing their national anthems ahead of the Uruguay match against Colombia last week. However the ambitious plan was nixed as FIFA banned Suarez following the now infamous biting incident involving Italy's Giorgio Chiellini.
"Last summer we had several exchanges with Joel Borras Garcia from Pere Guardiola's (brother of Pepe) management company. The discussions were around sponsoring Suarez's gum shield for his return match to the Premier League after his last biting ban (the one on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic). Negotiations broke down over cost but in theory, he was up for it," Paddy Power sources told the Sunday Independent last week.
"We reconnected with Garcia immediately after his latest World Cup biting 'incident' and in principle we had a deal in place whereby Suarez would reveal a Paddy Power branded mouth guard during the national anthems before the Uruguay vs Columbia match.
Unfortunately FIFA had other ideas and when the 4-month ban was announcement, the deal fell apart. I guess you could say it was the best ambush marketing campaign that never was."
The World Cup represents the biggest opportunity for bookmaking firms to grab new customers every four years.
The main Fifa sponsors include Visa, Adidas, Emirates, Coca-cola, Sony and Hyundai. FIFA generated around $404m from marketing writes associated with this year's World cup.
FIFA sponsorships vary in cost, but it has been reported that Adidas is paying nearly $80 million a year. As part of its deal, Adidas creates the official football of the World Cup - the Brazuca, which has given the sports goods giant huge exposure from television close-ups.
Guerilla or ambush marketing tactics are used by companies to promote their brands at the competition in Brazil as the official advertising and promotional slots are locked down by FIFA's own headline partners.
FIFA lashed out against ambush marketing following a high profile stunt at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where a group of 36 orange-clad women crashed a Netherlands-Denmark match to promote a Dutch brewer. FIFA rules strictly prohibit any advertising at sanctioned events by non-sponsors.
Paddy Power has previously managed to pull off a number of high profile marketing stunts aimed at boosting its brand awareness. Danish Striker Nicholas Bendtner flashed a pair of Paddy Power branded underpants when celebrating his goal against Ukraine in the Euro 2012 competition. He was fined €100,000 by UEFA , which Paddy Power subsequently paid. The bookie also sought to rename a number of its shops as "Pele Power" in the run up to the World Cup. However the iconic Brazilian legend threatened legal action over the stunt so it was abandoned.
Last May, Paddy Power told investors that it expected customers to bet €160m on the Brazil World Cup. "We turned over approximately €80 million in 2010 on the World Cup and we would expect that to be at around €160 million this year," chief executive Patrick Kennedy told shareholders at its AGM. He described the competition as an enormous "one in- four-year opportunity to acquire customers.
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