Paddy Power’s Cheltenham Festival Facebook Tip TV Ad

To coincide with the highpoint of the jump racing season, bookmaker and Cheltenham sponsor Paddy Power has launched a new campaign with what it believes is the most important betting tip of all.


Built around a central TV spot, and created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the Cheltenham Festival work is part of the brand’s wider ‘We Hear You’ umbrella initiative.


This campaign is built around pre-Cheltenham online chatter and specifically focuses on one post on Paddy Power’s Facebook page wall. This post is about ‘big Cheltenham race tips’ and the commercial wonders how legitimate a tip is.


The ad narrative then tracks the tip back to its roots amidst some fairly unsavoury characters: going back to a prison inmate, who in turn was tipped off by a prison warden who made it up entirely.



The campaign’s message is fairly straightforward: you shouldn’t rely on tips from unknown sources (and Paddy Power’s big offers are more reliable and trustworthy.


Called ‘Tip Tracker Cellmate’, the spot was commissioned by Paddy Power’s global marketing director Christian Woolfenden, the creative directors were Ben Walker and Matt Gooden, it was written by Joe Bruce, art directed by Kate Baker, production was by Unknown and the media agency is M2M.


A follow-up TV spot called ‘Mystic’ is expected to continue in the same vein.


The in-store and online betting brand is a sponsor at Cheltenham Racecourse. Indeed it holds title sponsorship rights to Paddy Power Gold Cup Day, but that is The Open meeting’s Gold Cup and not The Festival meeting’s flagship Gold Cup race.


Thus, its Cheltenham Festival campaign focuses directly on driving betting consumers to use its on-track, in-store and online platforms for their festival gambles by promoting its own Cheltenham offers.


The company actually began its Cheltenham Festival marketing campaign in earnest at Sandown earlier in March with an initiative revolving around the Imperial Cup race which the Irish bookie sponsors. Leveraging the idea that punters were using the Sandown meeting to try and build a war chest for Cheltenham.


To incentivise gamblers, Paddy Power stumped up an extra £75,000 to Saturday’s winning connections if they also go on to land a winner at the Festival too.


The 2013 approach has some similarities to its 2012 Cheltenham work, although it seems considerably less controversial.


The bookie had already faced criticism for an outdoor stunt that saw it erect a Hollywood Hills-style Paddy Power sign in the hills above the Cheltenham racecourse where all festival-goers could see it. The brand did a similar thing during the 2010 Ryder Cup.


But its marketing last year generated numerous complaints.


Firstly, Paddy Power’s February pre-Cheltenham campaign ‘Stallions And Mares’ saw it challenge consumers to spot the transgender women it had placed in the festival crowd.



Further criticism followed in March when, during the build up to the Festival, Paddy Power added a ‘jockey’ to the famous hill craving of a white in Uffingdon, Oxfordshire.


This was followed up by its ‘Chav’s’ webfilm which featured a middle-aged man shooting tranquiliser darts at chavs at a horseracing track. This featured the tagline ‘Enjoy a chav-free Cheltenham’.


Like its 2013 advert, this webfilm was also inspired by a user comment on the brand’s Facebook page which said ‘Hope the chavs don’t ruin Cheltenham like they did Ascot’ (referring to a brawl on Ladies’ Day at Ascot in 2011).





Cheltenham is the worldwide market leader in jump racing – the sport’s Olympic Games – and attracts a cumulative annual UK TV audience of 60 million in addition to a sizeable number of international viewers (not least in Ireland).


Other Cheltenham sponsors range from financial brands to airlines and bookies and those looking to build brand awareness and drive their own event-specific services for the Festival include Albert Bartlett, Irish Times, JCB, Jewson, Ladbrokes, Neptune Investment Management, News International,  RSA and Ryanair.


But few are as well known for controversial advertising as the Irish bookmaker (which has also sponsored Manchester City, Swansea City and St Patrick’s Athletic football clubs).


Paddy Power, which was founded as recently as 1988 when three Irish book makers merged, is well known for creating highly controversial markets in order to generate publicity. These include offering odds on the date of the polar bear’s extinction and on which species would be the first to die out following BP’s massive Gulf Of Mexico oil spill and its 2008 promotion of its 16-1 odds that US


It’s advertising campaigns have been no less controversial. The Advertising Standards Authority received 400 complaints after one of the brand’s ads showed a visually-impaired footballer kicking a cat, while its use of Imogen Thomas and double-entendres during the Ryan Giggs affair story was also controversial.


More recently its Euro 2012 ‘pants’ stunt ended with striker Nicklas Bedtner being fined £80,000 by UEFA (which the bookie paid on his behalf) and it has attracted further ire with its campaign mocking the form of miss-firing Chelsea FC forward Fernando Torres.


The bookie placed an outdoor ad opposite Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium which purported to offer the £50million striker a job flipping burgers with copy reading ‘Fernando, we’ve got an onion bag you can actually find. It’s in the burger van mate. Get your hair net on.’




Paddy Power Website



Paddy Power 2013 Cheltenham ‘Tip Tracker’ TVC YouTube



Cheltenham Website



Featured Showcases