What better way to follow a giant erection than a massive eruption!? In April, air travel in Europe literally ground to a halt courtesy of a previously inactive Icelandic volcano with an unpronounceable name. Eyjafjallajökull’s impact on air travel was immediate and, with no end in sight, we spotted opportunity in adversity and launched volcanobetting.com. Volcanobetting.com allowed would-be holidaymakers to place a bet on a wide range of UK or Irish airports closing for at least a one hour period due to volcanic ash contamination on any given date between June 1st and August 31st. The odds on offer varied by airport and by date; as an example a £1,000 holiday leaving London Heathrow on July 18th could be covered by placing a bet of £50 at 20/1. Turnover was literally flying in the first two weeks before the worst thing that could happen happened; the volcano stopped erupting. Short lived but much loved, volcanobetting.com, just like Eyjafjallajökull, remains dormant……for now!
In April, we teamed up with champion jockey Frankie Dettori to unveil our latest sponsorship, the “Paddy Power Sin Bin”. The celestial sponsorship funded a new confession box for St. Etheldreda’s Church in the home of UK flat racing, Newmarket. The sponsorship was the brainchild of Newmarket Parish Priest Father Michael Griffin who was on the lookout for innovative ways to finance the renovation of his church which was several years overdue. The unveiling took place after 10 o’clock mass on April 27th. The congregation were a little bemused by the whole affair, particularly when a Sky News outside broadcast unit descended on the Church to broadcast the unveiling live on TV. Frankie Dettori had the honour of having his confession heard first in the Sin Bin followed by the perennially penitent Paddy Power.
May 2010 saw the launch of our iPhone App. We were the only bookmaker - around the world - in the Apple App Store at one stage. In September, the Paddy Power App was the number one most downloaded App in the Irish store. Mobile betting means our customers are only ever one touch away from Paddy Power, whether out and about, at the races or home watching the match. Hot on the heels of our iPhone offering we also introduced Apps for the iPad and the Android, which is apparently a kind of phone rather than an actual robot. In total, our mobile sports betting turnover increased by over 300% in 2010 and accounted for 19% of total Sportsbook stakes by the first two months of 2011.
In 2010, we returned to TV screens across the UK with three commercials that were certain to get tongues wagging. The accidental sending of a dodgy e-mail to your entire office was joined by a cringeworthy moment of male bonding in the locker room. However, the cornerstone of the campaign was a football-themed ad believed to be the world’s first commercial featuring blind footballers. A five-a-side match between two blind football teams takes an unexpected twist when a feline friend invades the pitch. Several of the players featured in the commercial went on to represent England in the 2010 World Blind Football Championships including the commercial’s main protagonist, Ajmal Ahmed, the England captain. Of course no cats were actually injured and Tiddles remains our good friend. We also returned to television screens in Australia with a new Sportsbet TV campaign which raised a wry smile on the face of punters Down Under.
2010 was not just about online. In 2010, we continued to expand our retail presence both at home and abroad. We opened the doors to 31 new betting shops in the UK and nine in Ireland. Our expansion was supported with product innovation across all aspects of the retail offering. Newly introduced Self Service Betting Terminals give customers further service and choice about how they want to bet – they’re similar to the express self-service checkouts at supermarkets, only with the added distinction of actually being quick! Our shop audio team now also communicates key time sensitive news impacting odds and alerts for major Paddy Power specials on Twitter. Such developments leverage online expertise in a retail setting driving more benefits out of the multi-channel approach. New innovative retail offers introduced in 2010 included paying out on two winners where an early leader, frustratingly for punters, fails to finish the job (‘Winner Winner’), extending our unbeatable money back on all losers to greyhound racing and an unparalleled level of daily price enhancements.