It’s a sad day in the world of sporting PR, as news breaks that one of the World Cup’s shining lights has passed on to the great aquarium in the sky.
After a summer spent successfully predicting the results of his adopted homeland Germany and becoming a bona fide superstar, it was announced today that Paul the psychic octopus had passed away peacefully in his tank.
Now there’s no doubt that Paul was easily the most exciting and interesting thing about this summer’s World Cup – particularly for British spectators. With only England – and a shockingly below par England at that – taking part in the tournament, there wasn’t much to shout about for most fans from the British Isles.
Even the so-called “big teams” were all underwhelming. Italy and France imploded in spectacular style, Brazil were for once average, Maradona couldn’t galvanise Argentina and even the two finalists Spain and Holland managed to turn the showpiece event into the dullest slug-fest on record.
So after the novelty of the vuvuzelas quickly wore off, it was left to Paul to provide any kind of spark to South Africa 2010 – and the aquatic star certainly delivered in spades.
It was a piece of PR brilliance on behalf of the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen to bring Paul back out again following his rather average showing at the previous tournament Euro 2008, where his predictions were less than 100% accurate. Clearly, they felt that two years spent honing his skills had given him the edge when the World Cup came around.
It started as a bit of a laugh, but after Paul started to successfully predict the winners of Germany’s group and knock-out stage games, people started to take notice. There was almost a public outcry when he predicted – correctly – that his adopted nation would fail at the semi final stage and by the time it came to the final, Paul’s prediction was major news. Not bad for a trick that was, basically, just opening a box to get a tasty mussel out of it.
It’s also been announced that bookmakers are breathing easier today following Paul’s death, as they were concerned that he could cost them dearly if he made any more predictions. Even with something as tounge in cheek as this, it still proves what a great PR job that the Sea Life team did with their star attraction.
Innovative, unusual and a breath of fresh air, it’s a real shame that the biggest success story in the world’s most prestigious football tournament had to come from a lowly octopus in a tank. Paul – we salute you.
Everyone else involved with the World Cup take note. You don’t have to have something flashy and expensive to capture the world’s imagination.