Killer app: SMP helps reward Leicester’s steadfast supporters

By Max Goldbart, Tuesday 31 May 2016

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They pulled off the underdog sporting triumph of the century. Leicester City FC, 5,000-1 outsiders to win football’s Premier League at the start of the season, lifted the trophy at the end of their final home game against Everton on 7 May, after Chelsea drew with Tottenham a few days earlier.

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Some lucky punters who put their faith in Leicester at the very beginning of the season and put money on the team to win were rewarded by Paddy Power with an open-topped bus journey through the city. The 200-staff £38m-turnover SMP Group was tasked with print-wrapping the bus.

What did the job entail?

Woolwich, London-based SMP was first commissioned by Paddy Power on 8 April, when it became clear Leicester were likely to win the league. It was allocated a budget by the Paddy Power PR department and first had to hire a vehicle that would replicate a trophy-winning tour bus. Paddy Power’s in-house team supplied the artwork, SMP provided the measurements then printed the work onto bus vinyl before it was sent up to Leicester, all in time for the 7 May victory celebrations. 

How was it produced?

SMP staff printed the wrap graphics onto Metamark MD5 digital vinyl using a 1.6m-wide HP Latex printer at the firm’s 8,360sqm Woolwich site. They then hand-applied each 1.6x1.6m panel to the vehicle. Printing took two days and wrapping was then done over the course of a day. 

What challenges were overcome?

SMP account director Adam Winser: “As things moved along, we had all the install teams in place, but as the season was drawing to a close obviously Tottenham were snapping at the heels of Leicester. It meant Paddy Power became a little concerned at whether the PR stunt would be relevant.

“The biggest challenge was getting the artwork printed and on the bus in such a short space of time from approval.”

What was the feedback?

Paddy Power PR manager Lewis Davey said: “SMP was very good, we work with them a lot anyway. Us marketers assume bus wrapping is easy, but obviously there is a lot to it. Like the rest of the football world, we were at the mercy of Leicester and their remarkable run.”

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