There are two schools of thought regarding PR stunts. One is that they are naff, obviously contrived and transparent to the target consumer. The other is that they create noise and give a brand exposure in places they would normally struggle to achieve it.
There is no real doubt which of these camps the marketers at Paddy Power fall into. The company’s recent ‘sponsorship’ of Denmark’s Nicklas Bendner’s underpants at Euro 2012 has once again got people talking about the brand.
Sure, opinion is divided. Some people believe that Paddy Power is lowering the tone of major events (they also hired a field adjacent to Celtic Manor during the 2010 Ryder Cup to display a logo, and recruited Imogen Thomas as an ambassador shortly after she hit the headlines).
Others think its funny and adds some light entertainment to the serious sporting occasions.
Where Paddy Power has succeeded and many others have missed the mark though is quite simple.
The people that this approach offends are actually not the target profile that they are attempting to attract to the brand.
Whereas the people having a sly chortle to themselves and enjoying the irreverence of the tactics are exactly the profile that this particular organisation is looking to recruit as customers.
And that is the key point with PR stunts.
Stunts for stunts sake are pointless, often costly and sometimes damaging. Before undertaking one, you need to work out what your target consumer will think and feel when they see or read the story.
Paddy Power is in a great position in terms of their tongue in cheek, challenger brand positioning which makes this equation slightly easier – but you still have to hand it to their creative thinking. Anyone that can get UEFA to release an official statement about regulating player underwear during the biggest event in its calendar has certainly found the right recipe.
So the verdict on this one? Think about PR stunts carefully but this particular one was anything but pants.
* Dan Clifford is head of PR at WAA