LONDON/DUBLIN: Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, is building its brand and achieving impressive levels of engagement with its predominately male customers by using comedy and mischievous stunts in its real-time content strategy.

According to Philip Lloyd, Group Head of Advertising at Paddy Power, which recently merged with Betfair, mischief-making and "fearless provocation" have paid dividends by helping to differentiate the Dublin-based firm from its tamer competitors.

Speaking at a breakfast event organised by the PR agency Unity, he outlined the company's unorthodox approach and highlighted some favourite examples.

One stunt the company has successfully used to gain attention has been to sponsor people at high-profile events to reveal their underwear emblazoned with the Paddy Power logo and green livery.

For example, Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner dropped his shorts while celebrating a goal against Portugal during the Euro 2012 football tournament – although he later paid the price with a one match ban and a fine of €100,000.

A similar piece of mischief occurred when two people posing as Daft Punk, the French electronic duo, showed off their Paddy Power underpants after gate-crashing the Brit Awards in 2014.

And to keep its mischievous campaigning topical, Paddy Power just this week launched a new Olympics promotion offering punters their money back if a Russian beat a British or Irish competitor. This was a tongue-in-cheek swipe at allegations of doping among Russian athletes.

"Paddy Power does a huge number of things that you could describe as real time: there is nothing more real time than a footballer dropping his shorts after he's scored a goal or interrupting one of the world's biggest show-jumping events," Lloyd said.

However controversial, the strategy appears to be working as Paddy Power has reported high levels of engagement on its social channels that is paying off commercially.

The company currently has 595,000 Twitter followers with more than 1.5m Facebook Likes, and Lloyd explained that for Paddy Power Twitter followers are worth 2.5 times as much as non-followers, while a Facebook fan is worth twice as much as a non-fan.

With an eye very much on its young male audience who "love sport, comedy, sharing content and premiership football", Lloyd also revealed that the company's Dublin head office employs a team who are specifically focused on promoting the fun side of sport and the Paddy Power brand.

He said Paddy Power couldn't find any agencies that were able to provide the tone of voice, knowledge or dedication across all social channels that it wanted, so it instead employs journalists and even people from a comedy background.

"We have always been about provocation," Lloyd said. "We saw that the world was moving away from broadcast and old school media and people were spending more time on their mobiles, so we invested early on in teams that were pretty eloquent in social and copywriting and created in-house talent."

Data sourced from Warc