Who is this signing autographs at a football game?
A Reality TV Star
B Sports Commentator
C The “yellow” wiggle
D Third generation bookmaker and Chief Executive of William Hill Australian Operations known to say “We know what the punters want”
Traditional TV ads, newspaper ads, billboards at games, jersey sponsors, “brand ambassadors”, social media, gimmicks, promotions, apps for gambling, apps under the guise of providing sports information linked to gambling websites…the list goes on. These are all the different media outlets used by the gambling industry to successfully promote its product but also reveals the ugly side of integrated marketing in all of its glory.
Icobucci states while research suggests a positive relationship between integrated Marketing Communication and good brand outcomes: high level if awareness, brand loyalty and sales, it is not that easy to execute in practice, in part because non-traditional advertising agencies aren’t that good at PR…or certainly nontraditional advertising tactics, such as when they are using social media (and perhaps live TV.)
Unlike the product placement in popular reality shows, obvious and usually harmless, the branding and promotion of the gambling industry during top rating sport events is overt and bullish. When is enough, enough and can marketers abuse these different mediums and get it wrong? They claim to know what the “punters”, their customers, want but risk harming their brand and attracting the unwanted attention of regulators if they do not use these mediums right.
The recently elected Greens leader thinks they have and strongly states “we can’t enjoy a game of footy without having sporting adds shoved down our throats.”
A couple of years ago when the signing of autographs photo was taken of Tom Waterhouse (option D) there was a massive backlash as audiences started to become perplexed by the segway from commentator banter about the game to “throwing” to their “mate” Tom asking for his opinion on the game, odds and perhaps even for a horse tip for the next day at the races. This is an example of the recent phenomenon described by Iacobucci in Marketing management of the presence of a brand advocate in a chat room. It is similar to ad and product placement.
All the betting agencies have a brand advocate, which is tactic and part of the integrated marketing strategy to make us feel like we can trust the brand as well as build brand association. The gambling regulators have clamped down on these expert/advocates/paid employees sitting with the commentators, however there is still a very blurred line because the ads are tied into the broadcast with no distinction that you are now watching an advertisement. Jamie Rogers has been the brand ambassador for many years at TAB SportsBet.
When used well it can be a very powerful and persuasive tool but it can also become annoying and backfire as Tom Waterhouse discovered the hard way.
Two years later has much really changed in this landscape? Tom Waterhouse through this saturation of advertising and integrated marketing, promotions such as “your money back if one of “mum’s” (Gai Waterhouse) horses beats yours” sold his agency shortly afterwards to British agency William Hill for $34 million with an additional $70 million earn out clause. It along with SportingBet and Centrebet operate under a house of brands soon to unify under the one brand William Hill building brand awareness and putting pressure on Tabcorp and Tatts Group.
The planned strategy of sponsored paper adds in Friday’s paper (…odds brought to you by Centrebet…), promotional tie-ins pre-game, smart phone apps with alerts and texts telling you of a “gimmick bet”, slick tv ads of mates at the pub having fun and betting with their smart phone, information collected and used to target their segmented groups and even hold events for loyal and “profitable” customers is part of a multi-layered, integrated marketing strategy. At the centre of all of this is social media as gambling operators engage with their customers though social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube with links to their websites – ready to take your bets.
As adults we can choose to ignore the marketing ploys but twice this year I have been confronted by how it does reach children. My 5-year-old is following the footy this year and I let him use an app with the game stats and scores. I was surprised when he found a betting site, I did not realise the app had betting agency sponsorship arrangements found with one click. He is also learning how to spell and while watching a game last week asked me what B.E.T spelt, as it slowly and in large print flashed on-screen (so you don’t miss it if you are fast forwarding tv).
Also beware the spectator who may have had one too many drinks and gets carried away by a promotional alert during a Friday night game. That brings me to another topic, the integrated marketing strategies of the Beverage Companies and sport…. for another blog.
Image from greens.org.au Proctecting Kids, Protecting Sport
Iacobucci Dawn, Marketing Management, 2013, 2012 South Western Cengage Learning