Football legend Pelé gives Paddy Power red card over World Cup campaign
EXCLUSIVE: Irish betting firm forced to shred 20 new specially designed shop fronts in Ireland and Britain
Brazilian Football legend Pele has given bookmakers Paddy Power a red card 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 soccer icon’s name.
The “cease and desist” demand from Pele’s international lawyers was “extremely aggressive” sources said.
Pele, his name and imaging rights, is a huge international business, handled by New York based agency Legends 10 who act as Pele’s global agents.
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.
Legends 10 name is a reference to the famous No10 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 on the matter.
The threat forced Paddy Power, known for their sharp, irreverent and often tongue-in-cheek, marketing strategies 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.
“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,” a spokesman told the Sunday Independent.
It is understood that 10 Paddy Power outlets in Britain and 10 in Ireland were re-branded.
Some were taken down within hours after legal threats were issued.
Among Pele’s commercial links signed in the run up to 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 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in two years time.
Paddy Power are no strangers to controversy .
Ahead of the World Cup they released an advertising campaign which showed huge chunks of rainforest ripped out of the Amazonian rainforest with ‘c’mon England - PP’ carved into the 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, a football store on Belfast’s Shankill Road which put up the flags of the competing nations in the World Cup had to put up a special notice so as not to offend people in the fiercely loyalist enclave.
They had to explain that the green white and orange flag in the window was not the Irish tricolour - but the flag of the Ivory Coast whose flag is identical except in reverse.
Staff added the sign beneath the flag stating: “This is the Ivory Coast NOT Republic of Ireland”