Paddy Power - Rainbow Russians

Case study - Objective: Address an issue
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Paddy Power’s advertising is well-known for being mischievous and provocative, and when Russia hosted the 2018 World Cup, it saw an opportunity to draw attention to a serious issue: homophobia in football.

Building on its award-winning Rainbow Laces campaign, Paddy Power wanted to champion inclusivity and, with the world’s focus shifting to Russia, show support for the LGBTQ+ community. Not only would this develop its previous messaging, it would also allow it to stand out in the cluttered bookmaker marketplace.

The plan was to donate £10,000 to Attitude Magazine’s Foundation for every time Russia scored, with the funds going to make football more LGBTQ+ inclusive. In order to land this powerful message, Paddy Power wanted to align itself with relevant editorial and use reactive messaging to tap into World Cup fever. Not only this, but reaching an audience beyond its usual target demographic was also key as the World Cup carried mass appeal.

Newsbrands, therefore, proved to be the ideal place for Paddy Power’s reactive campaign. Collaboration with newsbrand titles was crucial, with ads placed in strong positions around Russia-related editorial, allowing for seamless contextual relevance. Timing was also important, with ads having to be placed at late notice (but in prime positions) following Russia’s games.

By placing impactful formats around relevant editorial, the campaign was highly shareable, enhancing its reach via social media pickup.

Key findings

  • A total of £170,000 was donated to Attitude Magazine’s Foundation, allowing for the training of 20 LGBTQ+ referees, the funding of educational programmes, and the making of grass-roots teams safe spaces for LGBTQ+ players
  • Paddy Power was the fifth most talked about brand globally in relation to the World Cup – behind major global brands and sponsors Adidas, Budweiser, Nike and Coca-Cola only
  • The campaign exceeded client targets to engage the mass market audience for activation (new customers), reactivation (lapsed customers that come back) and revenue


World Cup 2018 has been our biggest and most successful sporting event ever.

Michelle Spillane, head of marketing, Paddy Power