Paddy Power has pulled off quite possibly one of the best PR stunts of all time.

The Irish bookmaker placed a case containing a waxwork dummy of Sir Alex Ferguson outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground with a branded note on the glass which said ‘In case of Emergency Break Glass’.

The stunt poked fun at the club being hopelessly off the pace in challenging for this season’s Premier League title under the new management of David Moyes who succeeded Sir Alex during the summer of 2013. The fact that Manchester United isn’t challenging for the title or isn’t occupying one of the top four spots to secure a much-needed Champions League place is unheard of in the modern footballing era.Sir Alex

Manchester United’s current failings have put Moyes under pressure and have led to speculation about his future – with bets being placed on if and when the former Everton manager will get the sack.

It’s a brilliant, witty and well-timed stunt that everyone who has any awareness of football will understand straight away, and it positions Paddy Power at the forefront of the beating mêlée surrounding David Moyes and Manchester United.

And, let’s face it, it’s very funny and serves to enhance Paddy Power’s irreverence – which is a key part of its brand ethos.

Only days before the Manchester United stunt, Paddy Power’s global marketing director said “We’re disappointed if we don’t get complaints” about its PR and marketing activity.

According to the interview with Christian Woolfenden in the Drum, the Advertising Standards Authority received 121 complaints about 49 Paddy Power ads in 2013. And 2014 is already shaping up to be even better, as it is facing allegations that luxury gifts it sent to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un could have broken UN sanctions.

I’ve written a few blogs about Lego’s brilliant PR stunts – such as the time they made a lifesize version of a Volvo – but I think Paddy Power has knocked them off the top because of their irreverence.