Monthly Archives: January 2010

Editor’s blog: Paddy Power has a funny idea of the ‘craic’

Call me a humourless killjoy, but I’m not wildly amused by the Paddy Power/Monarch Airline story.

Monarch is furious that the Irish bookie – a self-styled ‘household name synonymous with fun and entertainment’ – has heavily promoted its odds of 4-1 that the airline will be the next to fail. Paddy Power is claiming that it is just responding to a surge of more than 100 punters seeking odds on Monarch’s demise. Funny how these surges always coincide with such an annual publicity push.

Just how damaging this kind of lark can prove was spelled out last year, when a Paddy Power press ad promoting its ‘next airline to go bust’ odds was banned by the ASA, on the grounds that it ‘denigrated’ airlines.

I’d go further than suggesting it denigrates the airline. It actively damages Monarch’s ability to do business. It sucks away the customer confidence necessary for companies to sell their goods and services. There can be no doubt that with all the emotional weight involved in taking the annual holiday, there will be a good number of Brits who will now avoid booking with Monarch because Paddy Power has put the frighteners on. They will be uneasy about the possibility of winding up stranded in Dalaman or Fuerteventura with a worthless ticket home, their weeping kids slumped in the departure lounge.

If we wrote an article saying Monarch was going to go bust they would sue us for libel, and quite rightly so. (I never thought I’d see myself banging a sentence like that out on my keyboard.)

Monarch employs plenty of people, as well. As its MD Tim Jeans pointed out: ‘We have 6.5 million customers and 2500 employees who won’t find this at all helpful or at all funny’. PaddyPower prides itself on having a ‘good craic’. So why don’t they sent up a book on the corner of a busy Dublin high street and offer odds on the next OAP to fall on the ice and break his or her hip? Side-splitting.

Like Class A drugs and fast women, I steer clear of gambling. I once spent a week with a number of members of Gamblers’ Anonymous, and a pretty wretched mess they were, too. It’s also true that pure gambling has been the root cause of a large proportion of the economic mess that we find ourselves in at the moment. We’re the victims of a casino economy. We’ve been brought down by the fast-buck banking that isn’t about the boring business of lending money to business to grow, but gaming the system with shorting, credit default swaps or whatever. When business is reduced to mere gaming – reducing companies and those who work in them to the machinations of a crap shoot – we’re right to fear the consequences. As do those unfortunate souls at Monarch whose lives are made more difficult by Paddy Power’s ‘good craic’.

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The value of ignorance

When I was young, I used to stop by my Gran’s house on the way home from school.

We’d have a chat, and she’d make us a pot of tea.

Spooning the tea, from the tea caddy, straight into the pot.

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