The launch of Huddersfield Town’s new football kit has been causing something of a stir on social media, inevitably leading to coverage in the actual media. The outrage is coming from Terriers fans and fans of other clubs alike, mostly lambasting the club for defiling the kit with a huge Paddy Power sash, which has been compared to a beauty show sash or hen party accessory.
At first, I thought the kit launch was a stunt. But now I am not so sure. Yes, the club’s launch page does not show a clear picture of an actual physical shirt with the oversized advertising sash. But then I considered the fact that no club management structure or even the most naive of internal marketing teams would see trolling their own fans. The kit even features on the banner at the top of the club’s official website. This is not just a Twitter wind-up thought up in five minutes.
Betting firm Paddy Power would be more than happy to execute such a wind-up, but even they (or club management) must realise that such a campaign would amount to an advertising campaign for them and not for the club in question. Add to this the sensitivities about gambling in and around sport at the moment and you have something of a mess. After all, when drawing so much attention to the deal with a betting company, both club and sponsor should not forget the fate of Bolton’s short-lived shirt deal with a payday loan company.
Whatever this design is – wind-up or cock-up – neither side comes out of it well. Either Huddersfield Town have taken the piss out of their fans by allowing Paddy Power to use them for a PR stunt in which they gain nothing, or they have allowed a disastrous shirt design out there. Possibly one that even breaches league rules.
The truth of the campaign will obviously come out in the next 24 hours, but this may well be the point where the famously disruptive betting brand has jumped the shark. Their brand is increasingly one that people groan at (for their gags or their impact on communities) and it is alienating fans when it should be cosying up to them. The class clown is only funny for so long when he keeps telling the same joke and telling everyone how funny it is.
Dog bites shark? Just maybe.