Black Friday: Is it Worth it?

So, with just over a month left until Christmas; the rush to finish shopping is well and truly on. While I’m sure there are many of you out there who have already finished your shopping and have nothing at all left to buy, I am also certain that there are loads of you (like me) who have ALL of your shopping to do. As I am a part of this group Im going to let you in to a few secrets for coping with the ultimate shopping day of the year, BLACK FRIDAY.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Black Friday shopping day, although with it being plastered all over our screens from the 1st of November it would be hard not to have at least heard of it before. Black Friday, which originated in America is the last Friday in November/the Friday after thanksgiving. While in America stories of Black Friday bring stories of long queues outside shops, violent fights which can only envy Monica, Phoebe and Rachel wedding dress shopping; it can be a dangerous game venturing out to the shops that day; although I’m yet to experience hair pulling and name calling in Victoria Square. 

How prepared I think I am for the Black Friday Sales

Shopping on Black Friday when every shop within your eyesight has a big, shiny, sale sign outside can be daunting. Who’s doing the best deal? Who’s got a sale on all stock? Who’s only using it as an excuse to get rid of last seasons stock? The best way to go about this is to do your research. Generally if a brand has American roots, or has a presence in America you can count on some sort of sale, should it only be minor. One rule which I have learned is generally true when it comes to Black Friday is that ‘The bigger the brand the bigger the sale’ we’re talking Hollister, Pull and Bear, Guess, Black Friday deals are huge in these shops and are usually on the autumn/winter stock; in other words, stuff you would actually want to buy at this time of year.

But while the physical sales are rivalled only by Boxing Day sales, there is a lot to be said for the online Black Friday sales. Come 12.01am on 29th November there will be price cuts left, right and centre. Even the staff in some shops will recommend waiting until their online black Friday prices come out as the savings are so good – music to all parents ears!

How prepared I actually am

But what is our infatuation with Black Friday and why do we feel like we save more on this sale, on the last Friday in November than we do in any other sale of the year? Well, really the price cuts in some stores aren’t that great and some shops don’t even take part. Primarily the best deals can be found in American brand stores and the UK based brands might have a 20% sale; quite mediocre if you are managing to save 50% in say Hollister. Black Friday has become so much of an institution now many brands start their offers early; Amazon have started advertising their Black Friday deals already. 

Has Black Friday turned in to a marketing ploy from shops to make us think that were making huge savings on our Christmas shopping? Most shops have deals on and off for the whole Christmas shopping period, so the savings we make in November could easily be recreated in December, but we have ourselves convinced that doing as much Christmas shopping on the last Friday in November is absolutely pivotal to keeping our costs down in terms of Christmas presents. So is it time to wind down Black Friday in the UK or continue to embrace the biggest shopping day of the year given to us from across the pond? I for one will continue to embrace it because after all, who doesn’t love a good sale?

Niamh Magee is a second year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at Twitter: niamhmagee_ and Instagram: neevmagee

Who’s winning Burger Wars – From Genius Marketing to PR Fails

So today I continue my account of ‘Burger Wars’, what is Burger Wars you might ask? Burger Wars is the competition between McDonalds and Burger King. Two giants of the burger world, battling it out for the top spot. How do they do this? Well through their PR and Marketing Campaigns of course. Often making subtle references to their competitor or not so subtle in Burger King’s case.

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I wrote a post on my personal blog around a month ago, called ‘A Day Without a Whopper’ which you can find here. This detailed Burger King’s decision to stop selling their famous ‘Whopper’ burger for the day in aid of their competitor McDonald’s charity campaign. They told all their customers to go to McDonalds and instead buy a Big Mac as profits would go to charity. This came a few years after Burger King had tried to collaborate with McDonalds on the McWhopper, again for charity, but had been rejected by their competitor. Burger King just being charitable? I don’t think so, these were very clever and well thought through marketing campaigns designed to make Burger King look like the bigger person in this clash of titans.

So what’s happened since?

Well I have personally been seeing a lot on Twitter and LinkedIn about various PR and Marketing Campaigns from the giants – both good and bad. So I thought it was only fair that I summarise my findings in a blog post on the latest in this saga.

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  1. McDonalds – It’s Not the Same Without the ‘M’

This campaign in particular I have seen widely shared across LinkedIn over the past week and it’s one that stuck with me proving how successful it was. McDonalds decided to stamp their branding in some of the busiest places in the world – Airports. Removing their signature letter ‘M’ for the titles of many well-known countries and simply using the slogan ‘It’s Not the Same Without the M’. One thing I loved about this campaign was this simplicity, it’s eye catching and straight to the point, you automatically known what brand it’s for and it makes you think of McDonalds. I know after a long flight, often the first thing I want is a quick and easy meal, so I think the positioning here is great.

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  1. Burger King – The Meltdown

Burger King decided to get on board with sustainability and vowed to stop producing plastic toys in its kid’s meals, as part of an aim to save 320 tonnes of single use plastic. The fast food restaurant now also offers a service where you can bring in your old plastic toys to be melted down and the opening week of this promotion you would receive a free kid’s meal in return for doing so. In typical Burger King style, they didn’t miss the opportunity to take a jibe at McDonald’s by stating their toys where ‘especially’ welcome in their promotional video. For me this is a huge win for Burger King, climate change and sustainability are such a talked about issue at the moment and this is the type of reaction we need from big brands and corporations.

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PR Fails

  1. McDonalds – ‘Bloody Sundae’

I’m sure most people have heard about this by now as it’s been highly reported on and sensitive issue, especially in Northern Ireland. But McDonald’s were the subject of a huge PR Fail, over a Halloween promotion of their Ice Cream in their Portugal stores featuring the slogan ‘Sundae Bloody Sundae’. McDonald’s has since issued a public apology stating that the campaign was not intended to reference historical events and that they sincerely apologise for any offence caused. However, this has not stopped residents of Northern Ireland and further afield being highly and rightly upset by the campaign.

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  1. Burger King – Milkshake Tweet

Burger King came under fire with the ASA recently about a tongue and cheek tweet stating ‘Dear people of Scotland, We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun.” The tweet came as a response to McDonald’s stopping selling milkshakes at the request of the police, due to politicians such as Nigel Farage being ‘milkshaked’ (having a milkshake thrown over them in the street). The ASA stated that they considered that the ad encourages ‘anti-social behaviour’ and banned the tweet.

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So who’s winning here?

In my eyes Burger King have the lead here, I love how reactive their PR and Marketing is and their constant focus on current issues. I think their constant ‘trolling’ and responding to McDonald’s is pretty humorous and clever and gives them the upper hand here.

 

Hannah Chambers is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can find her on – Twitter: @HannahC_PR  and LinkedIn: Hannah Chambers

My name is Emily and I’m addicted to TikTok…

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About a month ago I was off work sick spending the day in bed scrolling through social media when I came across a compilation of funny videos with the source listed as ‘TikTok’. At this point I’d never heard of this app but having exhausted all of my social media already and needing more of a distraction from my illness, I decided to download it and see what it was all about.

At first I was apprehensive and it seemed like the whole app was just a bunch of pre teens lip syncing or dancing to random songs and the odd funny dog video. But the more I scrolled through the app the more I realised there was actually a wide range of content on it from all ages and I found myself enjoying the short funny videos. In fact it was quite refreshing compared to the usual scrolling through pictures on Instagram or watching long YouTube videos. Now here I am a month or so later and I’m officially addicted, and I’ve got loads of my friends hooked on it as well.

I’m so addicted to it that its now my most used app on my phone with the screen time tracker telling me I now spend an average of one hour per day on it compared to just 20 minutes on Instagram and fifteen minutes on twitter. Then recently I watched a TikTok that said the app recently passed 1 billion users worldwide and it got me wondering, where did this app come from and how has it got so popular so quickly?

I did some research and found out that TikTok came about due to a merger between the Chinese app Douyin (branded TikTok for the western world) and the app Music.ly which became popular in 2016 and was an app where users could create short 1 minute lip syncing music videos.  Then when Bytedance, the owners of Douyin, bought Music.ly in November 2017, they realised they could easily expand into the US teen market which was already dominated by Music.ly.

The ‘new’ TikTok however, is a lot more than just music videos with users uploading a wide range of content including prank videos, storytimes, cooking videos, life hacks and comedy re-enactments – all under one minute each.

The growing popularity of this app, not just among  a teenage audience but expanding into young adults and beyond, shows the shift in how we like to engage in social media content as a society. We like short, to the point, varied content that we don’t have to read. That’s the beauty of TikTok, its very easy to consume, the app automatically sends you a feed of videos on your ‘For You’ page that are popular on that day in your area and it also learns what type of content you enjoy based on the videos you like and the accounts you chose to follow.

According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, TikTok ranked third in the world in November 2018 for the amount of downloads and the app was downloaded more than 104 million times on Apple’s App store during the full first half of 2018.

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Celebrities are getting involved now and there are even some users considered ‘TikTok’ famous with millions of followers now organising meet and greets and doing paid sponsored posts. I’ve now started to see it all over LinkedIn where everyone is saying that ‘TikTok must be a part of your marketing strategy’ and I’m starting to think we may have another Vine on our hands and TikTok could just be another social media app with a very short lifespan.

I think that if suddenly TikTok is just saturated with paid content and sponsored posts, people will lose interest and trust in the people they’re following.  I mean I’ve only been on it a month and even in the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed an influx of ads in between the videos! The ads are easy to scroll past but it is frustrating especially because the complete lack of ads and sponsored videos is what made it so easy appealing when I first joined the app. But I suppose with such growing popularity, its not surprising that brands are taking advantage of the app but I am very intrigued to see how the app grows in the coming months and whether or not it will last.

Source: The Incredible Rise of TikTok – [TikTok Growth Visualization] – influencermarketinghub.com

Emily Spackman McKee is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter @_spackman and LinkedIn Emily Spackman McKee 

 

How ITV’s Love Island led ‘I Saw It First’ to become an e-commerce success

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As cliché as it sounds, watching Love Island is everyone’s guilty pleasure. It was only in the series past that I decided to give in and watch the show and I could now understand why my friends were all so engrossed and didn’t want our evening plans to surpass 9pm. For 8 weeks it was the hottest discussions in social outings, work, the gym and even my mummy tried keeping up to date with the latest goss about the islanders so she could be in the know. Whilst watching these rising celebrities to be and their relationship drama unfold did you ever wonder how and where they got the look? Last year, it was reported that the shows fashion sponsor Missguided achieved an increase in sales of 40% when the show aired. Was it possible for I Saw It First to match or exceed this achievement as they signed an exclusive partnership for series 5 of the show?

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I Saw It First, who were relatively unknown before sponsoring ITV’s Love Island are a fast-fashion brand who provide for the glamorous, fashion obsessed female. Keeping up with the latest trends they never fail to end the ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ dilemma and all at an affordable price. Only having been on the market since 2017, I Saw It First have been on one hell of a journey. From obtaining an innovative sponsorship with the lavish Ocean Beach Ibiza to collaborations with Cindy Kimberly, Lolo Wood and Stassie (yeah, just google them) they have managed to put themselves on the fashion map.

The majority of Love Island viewers come from millennials and Gen Z; two of the biggest generations who are the true digital natives. It comes with no shock that social media was going to manifest the experience of the show as viewer’s more than likely sit with their smartphone in hand refreshing Twitter for the latest on what others had to say, like really do we ever put them down anyway? The clothing company used this as part of their strategy to help with the increase of sales. Before the show, islanders were given a nice little allowance to choose any clothes from the summer collection to wear on-screen. Not only did this create a closer relationship between the brand and islanders, perhaps allowing for them to work together in the long run but it also provided organic content to be uploaded rather than the traditional sponsored posts, conveying good old brand personality.

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Wanting to avoid anything Love Island related? Then it was best to avoid Twitter itself if you could. Swamped with memes, spoilers and outfit highlights it was the number one app to keep updated on the goss from the villa. When the first episode of series 5 aired, reports show there were over 400,000 tweets mentioning Love Island. This was I Saw It First’s time to shine as they cleverly included the Love Island hashtag in their tweets to take advantage of the incredible reach. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

The e-tailer also created a hashtag on Twitter; #ISawIsland so users could easily search for those savvy neon dresses and funky bikinis, providing a link straight to the item so it could be purchased there and then. In addition to this, they created a Love Island hub on their website with profiles of each female islander and individual story highlights of each female on Instagram with a swipe-up link so you didn’t have to go through endless pages of clothes, very convenient. They also integrated their product placement onto the show’s click-to-buy app. When using the app to vote, users were surrounded with advertisements that provided a direct link to any of the items featured, giving viewers an easy way to find and shop the outfits seen on screen whilst allowing them to build an association of the two brands. Talk about dedication! Or just really wanting to up those sales.

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I Saw It First really do have their finger on the pulse of the fashion industry. Landing this opportunity with a show that has 6 million viewers tells us that the traditional methods of marketing makes for powerful advertising formula, using reality TV as a vehicle for influencer marketing. As a result of collaborating with the show it led them to an increase of 67% in sales month on month. They continue to be consistent with their methods throughout all their social channels and ensure their content is fresh and engaging, having gained 905k followers which comes with a fantastic opportunity to access their target market even more. The partnership focuses on an audience that have the talent of scrolling miles on their phone and watching the show at the same time.

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With social commerce on the rise, rather than consumers making direct purchases through retailer websites, they’re discovering products on social platforms and perusing their purchases there, a drive to be the new online marketplace. I Saw It First’s Love Island hub, their Instagram profile and the Love Island app provide endless opportunities to do so, a marketing masterpiece.

Fionnuala Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @fionnualaheg,  LinkedIn – Fionnuala Hegarty, and Instagram – fionnualahegarty

 

Thank u… but, try again.

On Sunday 22nd September, Ariana Grande brought her much anticipated ‘Sweetener World Tour’ to Dublin’s 3Arena for 3 sold out shows. Her tickets sold out within 3 minutes on release clearly showing the hype and popularity she has gathered in the past year after the release of her ‘Sweetener’ album and return to the music scene following the devastating Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 at her concert. As a massive fangirl or “stan”, if you will, I was counting down the days until I got to sing my heart out to her endless bops and just stare in awe at the biggest pop star in the world today (in my opinion however, if you disagree I can’t guarantee I’ll listen to your argument).

Upon her arrival and stay in Dublin, the media were in a frenzy reporting on the anticipation for last minute tickets and any glimpse people got of her roaming the streets of Dublin. It was fair to say, there was much excitement in the air and after scrolling through my Twitter feed that weekend, I stumbled across a tweet from Cadbury Ireland and it’s clear they were really TRYING to get in on the hype with a little shameless PR stunt.

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Cadbury Ireland’s tweet on Ariana’s opening night

After reading this tweet and staring at it for a few minutes, I had mixed reactions, none of which were positive may I add but, I feel the most appropriate way to explain how I felt is best depicted with memes.

 

  1. Initial reaction

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If I’m honest, when I first read the tweet, I thought it made no sense. What is the relevance between a box of roses to Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank u, next’? In what world do we gift our exes a box of chocolates for the pain and life lessons they’ve given us? What is this weird point they’re trying to promote? I had too many questions for what was clearly meant to be a quick promo for a box of Roses and once, I figured out the message they were aiming for, it seemed a bit lackluster. In my opinion if a company wants to quickly promote a product or message through social media, it should be smart and easy to understand and a lot of the time, memorable for good reasons. This tweet on the other hand left me scratching my head like a lot of other Twitter users in the thread.

 

  1. Follow up reaction

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This meme really depicts my follow up reaction for a few reasons. As mentioned before, I am a Ariana Grande fan but, I’m pretty sure over the past 2 years, without even being a fan of Ariana’s, a lot of people are very aware of what has happened in her life and what led to the creation of ‘Thank u, next’.

After reading Cadbury Ireland’s tweet, it’s imaginable that the person who came up with the idea has a 12 year old niece who was going to one of the shows and despite not really knowing much about her, it was all they were hearing about from young people so, they might as well post a ‘relatable’ tweet to stay relevant with the current hype.

My main observation though was that 0 research was done and there wasn’t much knowledge on Ariana. The reason behind my assumption being that there was no regard for the insensitivity towards suggesting Ariana should have gave her exes a box of chocolates when,

  1. Her ex Mac Miller, whom is mentioned in the song tragically died from a drug overdose and
  2. Her ex-fiancé Pete Davidson struggles with his mental health and openly discussed suicide following calling off their engagement.

Both of these incidents inspired Ariana to write ‘Thank u, next’. She commemorates them for the life lessons, love and pain that they’ve taught her and ultimately allowed her to take time to love and focus on herself.

Taking all of this on board, I feel Cadbury Ireland’s social media team could have taken a better approach to engaging with Ariana being in Dublin. I understand it was likely an attempted light-hearted joke however, when promoting your products and making links to celebrities, songs, events etc. I believe it’s always necessary to have an understanding of background details like the above and to use these links with the appropriate context.

When carrying out PR work you are always trying to influence opinions and behaviours positively however, without research and knowledge on the message you are promoting, it appears less credible, sloppy and in this case a bit distasteful. Looking through the thread, twitter users were providing nothing, but negative feedback aimed at Cadbury Ireland’s marketing team, which is evidently not what their goal was.

Initially I was wondering was I overreacting and perhaps looking too deep into it however, the tweet didn’t perform overly well, with the general reaction in the thread reflecting my own thoughts.

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I began to look at Cadbury Ireland’s other tweets to gauge whether this is how their social media team usually portray themselves however, I was quick to notice that their other tweets were consistent in their social media voice and tone. This is what you expect from a company when they are interacting with their audience online. This made it all clearer that this Ariana plug was a spare of the moment thought and confirmed my assumptions that they were trying to stay on trend by feeding into the hype around current events.

 

So, on that note the only question I have left for Cadbury Ireland’s marketing team is…

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Marie-Claire Leung is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @MarieClaireL_PR and LinkedIn – Marie-Claire Leung

Why I chose a PR degree…

Why I chose a PR degree…

I remember when I was really young, the first thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a pop star – big surprise there, every 6 year old girls dream! Watching Britney Spears on the TV every single day and admiring her so much, can you blame me?

As I began to grow up a little more, I wanted to then become a hairdresser, then a pilot, then an astronaut! My dreams came crumbling down around me when I found out that to be a pilot or an astronaut, you have to have perfect eyesight – I wanted to break my little round face glasses into a million pieces. As if my eyesight was the only thing holding me back from being an astronaut and not the fact that I had a really average set of GCSE’s!GA10

As I was getting a bit older, around the time of my A-Levels I had started to become really interested in social media – Instagram in particular. I was completely in awe of all these ‘Instagrammers’, who were making a living out of advertising products on their page, like teeth whitening and big makeup brands. How had they built themselves up so well that worldwide companies wanted them to advertise their products? I couldn’t get my head around it.

My aunt, who works in PR, was able to explain to me all about advertising and social media and how it is such a big platform today for companies and businesses to advertise their products through, with the help of influencers and celebrities. From then, I have always been so intrigued and loved researching all about it.

As an A-Level business studies student, we learnt all about marketing, advertising, media and communication, and I knew from then that it was what I wanted to further my education in. I began researching University courses that could accomodate this. Originally, I wanted to go away, to Edinburgh or Liverpool, to study, but I had happened to stumble upon the CMPR course at Ulster University. I couldn’t believe my luck when I began looking into it, and all the different modules it had. I was immediately drawn to this course, and put it down as my number one option.

One of the aspects of PR that interests me the most, is the variety. PR really is just a blend of everything media related. Promotion, advertising, campaigns, keepingGA11 up an image, brand management, press releases, media releases – the list goes on! There is a mix of absolutely everything. The reason I like this so much, is because I enjoy working in a fast-paced and dynamic workplace, rather than just doing the same thing day in and day out. It makes work interesting and different each day, and that’s what excites me the most about any of my future careers that I may have in PR.

As I mentioned earlier, I have an aunt who works in PR. Although i’ve never really realised it, but she’s been one of my main influences to choose a degree in PR. She has built her way up to the top of an extremely tough industry, and her success is inspirational. Although she works hard, she also has a lot of perks to her job and recently worked on the Strictly Come Dancing Tour, and was sending me all her selfies with the celebs and judges! I was so envious! I can remember being younger, and she used to take me to the premiers of all the newest films, as she worked for CineMagic. They are some of my fondest memories.

These are just a few of the reasons that I chose a degree in PR! Why did you choose PR?

G x

 

Grainne Arkins – final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grainne-arkins-a54401173/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrainneArkins

 

PaddyPower’s Top 5 Publicity Stunts

PaddyPower is one of the leading Irish bookmakers who will do just about everything for some publicity, whether it be conventional marketing or controversial PR stunts,  From taking bets on whether Oscar Pistorius will “walk” from his murder trial to publishing a poster portraying Jesus and the disciples gambling at the last supper.  Personally i think most of the PaddyPower advertisements are hilarious and they continually think of  clever ways of advertising their brand. PaddyPower’s marketing department definitely produce material based on the understanding that “all publicity is good publicity”.

Below is a list of previous PaddyPower PR stunts that i believe are some of their best pieces of work.

5. Cheltenham festival pants 

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During the 2013 Cheltenham festival, PaddyPower offered race-goers the chance to get the best seats in the house in a flying pair of PaddyPower underpants. The giant flying underpants were not only seen by the 70,000 people in attendance but also was picked up on live TV broadcasts. Cheltenham festival organisers subsequently demanded that PaddyPower take down their flying pair of pants following the involvement of the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

4. Nicklas Bendtner’s Lucky Pants

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During a EURO 2012 group game Nicklas Bendtner coolly dispatched an equalising goal for Denmark, he then proceeds to pull down his shorts where he reveals a pair of PaddyPower lucky pants,  The stunt landed Nicklas a £80,000 fine which PaddyPower paid on behalf of Nicklas. The fine was issued on the same day that Croatian fans were fined £60,000 for racial slurs directed at Italian striker Mario Balotelli, PaddyPower publicly addressed the harsh penalty fee and were disappointed in EUFA’s “double standards”.

3. Ryder Cup Sky tweets

In a campaign to support Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament, PaddyPower decided to take to the skies above the Medinah Country Club to issue the worlds first ‘sky tweet’.  PaddyPower hired a fleet of aircraft’s to display tweets in the sky in support of Team Europe. The messages were quickly seen by the golfers and was picked up live on Sky Sports broadcasts. The campaign was so successful that BBC re-used the footage for their 2012 Sports Personality of the Year awards.

2. PaddyPower’s Drive Through Confession Box

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Prior to the Pope’s visit to Ireland on August of 2018, PaddyPower erected a giant drive-thru confession box to facilitate for the Irish population to repent decades of sins from the comfort of their own car. PaddyPower even carried out a special survey before building the express lane to eternal salvation, when asked if they found it convenient to attend confession, the majority (61%) said no, and a further 15% said it could be improved, cue PaddyPowers “convenient” method of attending confession.

1.Always bet on black

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Ahead of the one of the most anticipated fights the world has ever seen between undefeated Floyd Mayweather and Irish MMA champion Conor McGregor, Floyd steps up for his weigh-in, slips off his trousers only to showcase PaddyPowers bright green lucky pants with the phrase “always bet of black” embroidered on them in an apparent gut-shot to his opponent’s ‘f**k you’ pinstripe suit effort during the fighters’ promo tour for the event. Quite frankly, nobody had seen this coming especially given that PaddyPower, an Irish betting company wasn’t backing one of their own in Conor McGregor. Instead they had fledged allegiance to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather.

PaddyPower even held twitter competitions to win a free pair of PaddyPower lucky pants signed by Floyd himself.

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James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/ & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jimmymcgirr