On the morning of 17th July, Huddersfield Town revealed their new, controversial kit design with the Irish bookmaker’s name emblazoned shamelessly across it. Cue the fallout.
In the aftermath of this strangely monumental internet event, the dust is finally beginning to settle. After much confusion, consternation and twitter ridicule, perhaps we can start to see the wood from trees.
In this explainer, we clarify what happened and why, to make the web lose its collective mind.
On the 17th July, Huddersfield Town, the Yorkshire-based Championship team, took to twitter to unveil their brand-new kit. The design, unbeknownst to their fans, featured sponsorship from the Irish bookmaking giants, Paddy Power. However, this was not a usual sponsorship design. The name, Paddy Power, was draped across the full length of the shirt, top to bottom, in a sash-like design.
This left twitter commentators and fans alike, picking their jaws up from the floor. The design seemed to clearly flout all normal regulations about how much space a sponsor can take up on a kit design, let alone a gambling sponsor, which is subject to many further codes from the Gambling Commission. However, for many of Twitter’s rank and file, it was simply the ridiculous design that people couldn’t help compare to Hen party attire.
Even celebrities and media figures were getting involved. Jake Humphrey, the BBC TV sports presenter, tweeted an image of the new kit with the caption: “Wishing Paddy Power a great hen do…”
Later that evening, the club were due to play a friendly against Rochdale, where many fans expected them to turn up in the “real” kit. However, that did not happen and they wore the sash-style kits as promised.
Given that the shirt’s design is clearly in the breach of the FA’s regulations and Gambling Commission codes, this design is surely not built to last. But that could be the point.
Paddy Power has a long history of marketing stunts and it appears likely that this is just another one. The stunt has certainly succeeded in generating buzz; both Paddy Power and Huddersfield Town were trending Twitter topics on the day of the unveiling. Many believe that they simply have another, “proper” design ready to go once this one is deemed to be against the rules. Some have also suggest that the stunt is designed to get people talking about gambling’s role in Sports.
However, some have gone even further to suggest a more cynical point of view. One Twitter commentator named Pongolle has suggested that it could be a ploy to get all gambling sponsorship banned from football shirts. Though this seems self defeating, the user suggests that it could be a way to sabotage competition from smaller, lesser known brands. Paddy Power is one of the most well-known bookmakers in the UK and, of course, Ireland.
Whatever Paddy Power’s master plan, it appears to be working.