Marketers take the punt

Pic - The greens





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 Proctecting Kids, Protecting Sport

Iacobucci Dawn, Marketing Management, 2013, 2012 South Western Cengage Learning

Article referenced SMH 20/01/2015


11 thoughts on “Marketers take the punt

  1. I couldn’t agree more Kathryn. In a day and age when marketers have even more information about consumers and new ways to infiltrate the lives of consumers through so many different medias, it is important that marketing is regulated so that social lines aren’t crossed. In the first video you posted Richard Di Natale asks people to sign a petition against gambling advertising in sport. This is a good example of how consumers need to speak up to politicians to ensure marketing is regulated to protect consumers, especially impressionable (future) consumers like children. Maybe the conflict politicians have between strengthening the economy versus implementing ethically sound policy is a topic for another blog too!


  2. thank you Kathryn for raisin this matter . advertisement regulating is the least concern for the lobbies as they stand up and support industries regardless , I’ve came though many ads inappropriate for many, one example you mentioned here is gambling . its wide spread and you could see it in every media though its a big problem for the society now days and i have a family member who lost his family and job because of gambling and yet you still see it advertised . lobbies now days have their own politicians protecting their industries , they are more powerful then those who advocate for consumer affair.


  3. Great blog Kathryn and thought provoking. I am a little perplexed why we, as a society, think that gambling marketing should be limited during football games, when we are very happy for mitre 10 to be featured in some guise every 30 seconds on ‘the Block’. Are we applying some double standards here simply because we all perceive gambling as being unsavoury, because some people get addicted to gambling. There are some people that are addicted to shopping but we don’t suggest that retail shops should have their marketing restricted. There is an argument that betting advertisement induces young children to become gamblers later in life. I am not aware of any research that supports this but I acknowledge there may be some out there. However, if we use as a basis to restrict betting advertisements then we would need to apply the same rule to unhealthy foods and any other products that might lead to adverse health and societal impacts later in life. The list could be very long. The one exception to my rule is cigarette advertising. This has been very successful and I support this stand, so my position is admittedly not black and white. I think it is a good discussion to have about betting advertisements, the question I have is whether we are drawing the line under betting ads unfairly.


    • Some (me) would argue that marketing of unhealthy foods should be regulated… What about the role of marketers as educators as apposed to purely focusing on the consumption of their brand and increasing market share? I personally, would like to imagine a future where companies would succeed or fail based on how they address the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental outcomes that result from their business activities. But I don’t think that future can exist without a change in consumer behaviour, driven by good policy and regulation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am not in favour of over-regulation and I am not sure where anyone can draw a line with any confidence. There would always be an exception, should banks not be able to advertise their products for fear that people may get into debt that they cannot repay if they lose their job. I agree that the ads are painful and I don’t particularly like my children being exposed to them, however I think part of my role as their father is to help them make good decisions in life and explain the consequences of poor decisions, rather than rely on government regulation to do this for me.


  4. Your very last comment made me think back to the World Cup cricket final. As i was watching, I became very mad at Shane Warne and the amount of times he mentioned drinking as a form of celebration for the team. Despite being mad, I did write it off to Shane just being a silly bogan, however your blog has now got me thinking that perhaps VB (who happen to be the sponsor of the team) paid him for his comments? An I just being cynical or was it clever marketing?


  5. At one side is the sport giving message of teamwork, physical fitness, sportsmanship and on the other continum is gambling, its wierd to see gambling is advertising itself with sports as if they are sending a subliminal message that it is also a sport and that too healthy. By using their brand ambassador and printed jerseys they are fully taking advantage of integrated marketing.


  6. Not being a sports fan, I haven’t watched the footy on tv for years, but I was taken aback by the number of gambling-related adverts during a game recently.
    I live in an area where gambling is a real issue – mostly through pokies – a cursory look at the stats shows “All forms of gambling are trending down except for racing and sports betting where spending increased to $3.6 billion in 2011: $2.6 billion on racing and $1 billion on sports betting” (

    I don’t think you can compare betting agency advertising to mitre 10, even though renovation can often tear families apart…and while I hear the argument of ‘nanny state’, I think some people really do warrant that protection, because gambling addiction has such a huge impact on the wider community.


  7. I’m with Lisa on this. We’re raising a generation of children who are being saturated by advertising for gaming sites. I was going to make a comment about shopping doesn’t affect peoples live like gambling does, then I relaised that Credit Card debt probably does! I get annoyed when my football telecast is interupted by the same message over & over again, and the ads for gaming sites annoy me even more, I refuse to pay for cable & you can’t even avoid it online! It’s everywhere & so insidious you hardly notice anymore. Although ads have their uses – you can get up & get drink during the ad break!


  8. I denefitely agree. Advertising need to be regulated.
    Advertising plays an essential part in all market economies. It stimulates growth and innovation, encourages competition and increases consumer choice. It is a swift and efficient means of making consumers aware of product innovations and keeping them informed of the range, nature and quality of the products available to them. Advertising is an important element in maintaining or increasing market share and vital to the introduction of a new product or the improvement of an existing one. To fulfil this important task, advertising must enjoy a high level of consumer trust and confidence; it must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. If consumers are misled by advertising, they will not buy again; if it offends them, they will not buy in the first place. Bad advertising, even though it may account for only a small percentage of the whole, will gradually undermine consumer confidence and all advertising will suffer. So it is in the interests of the advertising industry to ensure that advertising is properly regulated.


  9. Seeing Tom Waterhouse on the television constantly always bugged me. These brand ambassadors always tell you that they are giving you this great deal or giving sound advice. While in actuality he is making money off all of us chumps.

    Personally I enjoy to do a small bet a couple times a month and always set myself limits to be careful. However looking back what brought on the thought of having a bet would be when I would see an ad on the television. The most permanent would be Sportsbet with their humorous commercials. They use jokes that are very close to my humour and they link to me, usually making me spend another $5! Very sneaky


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