Sportsbet to float giant Jesus balloon over Melbourne to promo World Cup

TAGs: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Paddy Power, Sky Betting and Gaming, Sportsbet

sportsbet-christ-statueAlderney-licensed online gambling outfit Sky Betting and Gaming have tapped McGarryBowen as its lead creative and strategic agency. The ad men emerged triumphant from a pitch-off with two other competitors, leading Sky Bet marketing director Rob Painter to say the firm had demonstrated they could “marry the complexities and speed of our business with exciting brand thinking.” The agency intends to start spending £17m of Sky Bet’s money on an annual basis, with McGarryBowen CEO Rick Hirst saying the plan was “to shake up this market with Sky Bet’s unique mix of sporting heritage and betting credibility.”

As far as shaking up the market goes, one can hardly ask for more than a giant Jesus balloon. That’s apparently what Paddy Power’s Australian offshoot Sportsbet has planned for the kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Melbourne broadcaster 3AW claimed to have been tipped off regarding Sportsbet’s plans to float a giant hot-air balloon over Melbourne shaped liked the Christ the Redeemer statue in World Cup host city Rio De Janeiro.

If the ad images are any indication of the finished product, Sportsbet’s deity incorporates facial features from the Buddy Christ in Kevin Smith’s Dogma movie. (Betty Christ?) The balloon will reportedly wear Sportsbet logos, an Aussie football jersey and the phrase ‘Keep the Faith,” a reflection of the Australian team needing a “World Cup miracle” to get past group stage opponents Chile, the Netherlands and Spain. Sportsbet apparently believe the only way Australia advances out of Group B is if they get “the football gods on our side.” (Geddit? Geddit?)

Definitely not getting it are local Christian groups, which have described the ‘co-opting’ of Christ to promote betting as stupid, short-sighted, and virtually guaranteed to piss off the faithful. Sportsbet declined to comment on its World Cup promo plans, saying only that the event was “still some time off.”

Given its Paddy parentage, Sportsbet unsurprisingly has a history of pushing the promotional envelope. You’ll recall the giant image of a kangaroo sodomizing a lion that graced the approach to Melbourne Airport last summer. Only time will tell whether Jesus of Nazerbet will be remembered as fondly or whether it will be destined for a lifetime ban like Paddy’s Oscar Pistorius trial ad.


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