Pele puts end to Paddy Power's bid to rebrand
Icon's lawyers 'extremely aggressive' in demands
BRAZILIAN football legend Pele has given bookmakers Paddy Power a good kicking over a World Cup marketing ploy to rebrand their shops 'Pele Power' during the tournament.
The Irish betting firm had to shred 20 new specially designed shop fronts in Ireland and Britain just days after they were erected following the threat of legal action over the use of the 73-year-old icon's name.
Sources told the Sunday Independent: "The cease and desist demand from Pele's international lawyers was extremely aggressive."
Pele, his name and imaging rights are a huge international business handled by New York based agency Legends 10 which acts as his global agent. He is also linked with another entity, also based in New York called Sport 10 where he is majority partner.
In this World Cup year held in his native Brazil, Pele is expected to generate more than €20m in revenues from personal endorsements, public appearances, advertising and merchandising – four decades after he last played.
The name Legends 10 is a reference to the No 10 shirt that Pele wore for Brazil, his club, Santos, and later in his career with the New York Cosmos.
Pele's representatives were unavailable for comment.
The threat forced Paddy Power, known for its marketing strategies and use of irreverent and often tongue-in-cheek statements, to abandon the 'Pele Power' rebrand – at considerable cost.
But the Irish bookies couldn't resist having a wry dig at the only footballer to win three World Cups as a player.
A spokesman told the Sunday Independent: "We wanted to give people a lift for the World Cup – and who better than Viagra's main spokesman Pele to do that. Unfortunately our plans fell flat after his lawyers got involved. We are a bit deflated."
It is understood that 10 Paddy Power outlets in Britain and 10 in Ireland were re-branded.
Among Pele's commercial links signed in the run up the tournament which began on Thursday include contracts with multinational consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, Volkswagen, Emirates airline, Coca-Cola and prestige Swiss watchmakers Hublot.
Some of the deals will run until after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
But Paddy Power are no strangers to controversy. Ahead of the World Cup they released an advertising campaign which showed huge chunks ripped out of the Amazonian rainforest with the legend "C'mon England – PP" carved into the primal landscape.
People thought thousands of trees had been cleared and were furious.
The bookies let a storm erupt on social media for a day or two to maximise publicity before revealing the photo was a fake, "designed to highlight a pressing environmental issue".
Meanwhile, in the North, a football store on the Shankill Road which put up the flags of the competing nations in the World Cup had to put up a notice so as not to offend people in the loyalist enclave.
They had to explain that the green white and orange flag in the window was not the Irish tricolour, but was actually the flag of the Ivory Coast, whose flag is identical – except in reverse.
In the end, staff added a sign beneath the flag stating: "This is the Ivory Coast – it's NOT the Republic of Ireland."