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Paddy Power unveils ruined plans to sponsor Suarez’s mouth guard

7/7/2014
Bookmaker Paddy Power has revealed details of their plans to pay Uruguay and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez €1m to wear a specially-branded mouth guard during a 2014 World Cup match.

Wheels were set in motion for Paddy Power’s next tongue-in-cheek marketing stunt last summer when the bookmaker discussed sponsoring Suarez’s gum shield for his return match to the Premier League following the striker’s last biting ban – a consequence of his chowing down on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

Paddy Power sources, talking to the Irish Sunday Independent, said that negotiations broke down back then due to a debate over price (although, sources add, “in theory, he [Suarez] was up for it”) plans were derailed this time around due to Suarez’s four-month-long ban for biting yet again, this time Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

This incident marks the third time Suarez has been accused of biting another player in his career.

Never missing an opportunity to cause a bit of well-publicised controversy, sources said they jumped straight back into talks about the stunt immediately after Suarez bit Chiellini.

A plan was put in place whereby Suarez would reveal a Paddy Power branded mouth guard while singing the national anthem before Uruguay’s game against Columbia in the tournaments last-16 knockout round.

However FIFA “had other ideas” and when Suarez’s four-month ban was announced the “deal fell apart”.

With most promotional opportunities limited to official partners and any advertising at sanctioned events by non-sponsors strictly prohibited by FIFA, Paddy Power are not the only team to revert to what are called ‘ambush’ or ‘guerrilla’ marketing tactics.

However, as a bookmaker well-known for its daring quest for publicity, it is not an unexpected move from Paddy Power.

In the Euro 2012 competition, the bookie paid a €100,000 fine to UEFA after Danish striker Nicholas Bendtner flashed some Paddy Power branded underpants while celebrating his goal against Ukraine.

In the run up to the 2014 World Cup the firm also attempted to rename a number of its shops to “Pele Power” after the Brazilian player – a stunt which had to be abandoned after the player sought legal action.

While that makes two clever schemes on behalf of the bookmaker that never came into fruition during the 2014 World Cup, Paddy Power sources assured the Irish Sunday Telegraph that the bookies plans with Suaraz amounted to “the best ambush marketing campaign that never was”.

Emma Rumney
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