Nobody would’ve thought that the words “Dennis Rodman“, “Paddy Power“, and “pope” would ever feature in the same sentence, but so they say, you can’t discount anything when it comes to the Irish bookmaker’s marketing and publicity savvy.You might’ve been surprised to see or hear that Dennis Rodman, the same guy who went to North Korea and told everybody with a pair of ears that he considered North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “a dear friend”, was at the Vatican during the papal conclave. Well, the mystery of what he was doing there – and riding a popemobile, for good measure – has finally been answered.
Paddy Power sent the Worm to the Vatican to rally people to place their bets on who would be the next elected pope, a role eventually taken by Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or as he’s going to be called from now on, Pope Francis.
Somehow, Paddy’s decision to turn Rodman into one of its ambassadors paid off as the bookmaker accepted around a record $1 million worth of bets on the papal race. “It’s the biggest non-sports market in Paddy Power history,” Paddy Power spokesman Rory Scott told CBS. “It’s huge. We’re taking in a heavenly amount of money on this.”
Despite the record sum Paddy managed to haul from the papal race, a rather significant chunk could be dealt back to bettors depending on how many put their (gambling) faith on the Argentinean cardinal to be elected pope. Bergoglio was a long shot with Paddy Power, when he was tagged with 33/1 odds to be elected pope.
And as far as Paddy’s latest marketing and publicity stunt goes, it’s not that surprising that they’d go to this length of using Rodman to generate public attention. After all, this is the same bookmaker that once had odds on an episode of the Simpsons, posted similar odds for an entire Wrestlemania card, and even presumably paid Danish soccer player Nicklas Bendter who infamously pulled down his shorts during last year’s European championships to reveal green boxer briefs with Paddy’s name emblazoned on the band.
While a lot of people might have a problem with the way Paddy concocts its publicity stunts, you won’t find any apologies coming from the Irish-based bookmaker. This is who they are. It might be called gimmicky media ploys, but it’s Paddy’s gimmicky media ploys and it’s more than happy to push for them at any chance they can get. “We’ve built our reputation, our name and our positioning on these kinds of stunts,” Scott said, before adding a tongue-in-cheek retort: “This is about as old as the conclave.”
And in some ways, Dennis Rodman is a suitable ambassador for Paddy Power. He’s still one one of the most outrageous and unpredictable personalities in the world today, two adjectives that also best describe the Irish bookmaker that told him to go to the Vatican to encourage people to make bets on the papal race.
Guess it’s not that weird after all.