Morten Hou Østergaard, account director, MediaCom Denmark
Morten Hou Østergaard, account director, MediaCom Denmark
A view from Morten Hou Østergaard

Think BR: The £10m pants

Ambush marketing is highly lucrative, particularly when it comes to Nicklas Bendtner's pants, writes Morten Hou Østergaard, account director, MediaCom Denmark.

Denmark might not have made it past the group stages of Euro 2012 but we did score. In fact, Nicklas Bendtner scored twice, once for Denmark and once for Paddy Power.

In celebrating his goal against Portugal by revealing pants emblazoned with a message for Paddy Power, he proved that ambush marketing lives on. It seems that no amount of sponsorship regulations will ever stop brands looking for ways round the official rules.

Uefa, of course, had words to say about the incident, fining Bendtner £80,000 and banning him for one match. Paddy Power, however, was happy to pay the bill knowing that the value of the ambush was far higher.

In fact our analysis estimates the return at around 100m Danish Krone – just under £10m – based on the global publicity the incident received.

Analysis of Google, for example, shows a surge in interest in both Nicklas Bendtner and Paddy Power. Together, Paddy Power and Bendtner achieved more than 10 times as much interest as Carlsberg, which is believed to have paid around £25m for an official sponsorship.

Add in the social conversation around the incident and we discovered a 40% global increase in mentions of Paddy Power. Additionally, there have been more than 5,000 tweets containing both Paddy Power and Bendtner in the week after. These have reached nearly five million unique users.

Then you add in the traditional media coverage. In total, around 8,000 mentions across all online platforms and 1,500 articles on 1,000 news sites in 60 different countries. Paddy Power and Bendtner are mentioned in the same sentence on blogs and forums, more than 2,000 times by people discussing what happened.

Using average visitor numbers and CPMs, we estimate that references across digital platforms alone have a conservative value of more than £5m. Combine this with TV and print and the total value of the ambush is doubled.

Given the level of the fine, it’s safe to say few brands will have been put off.

The stunt has created massive global attention that fits perfectly with Paddy Power's business model, which is internet based and therefore independent of nationality.

If there’s a downside to ambush marketing it may be with the athlete rather than the brand. Our analysis shows that this incident divided consumer sentiment.

However Paddy Power has the most positive sentiments (50% positive – helped by its reputation as a humorous brand) and most of the negative publicity was directed towards Bendtner and focused on his integrity and conduct.

While it won’t endear them to rights holders and could make it difficult for them to ever become an official partner, the £10m return more than makes up for this downside.

The brand’s success is likely to encourage others to ambush future sporting events such as the London Olympics.

Some have been working for four years to do exactly that. Nike’s tactic of signing up high-profile athletes around the World Cup and Olympics may be more expensive and more sophisticated but it’s equally effective and just as blatant.

Morten Hou Østergaard, account director, MediaCom Denmark