Maybe it’s because I’m a cynical old hack, but when I watch most advertising for gambling, I feel a mixture of shame and disappointment.
It’s a strange world we live in, when the face of the UK’s largest online bookmaker is an actor who came to prominence in the 1979 film Scum.
Look, I love Ray Winstone, he is a great British actor, practically a “National Treasure”, but genetics (and the Repton Amateur Boxing Club), has meant that, more often than not, he plays the part of a tough, criminal, cockney geezer. Is this the image the industry wants to portray to a new generation of digital savvy potential customers?
Well, yes, seems to be the answer.
Ladbrokes introduced us to the ‘Ladbrokes Life’, mockney geezers along with Tarantino inspired graphics. Paul Kaye, was another (admittedly funny) mockney geezer, in a series of ads for BetVictor, while Coral headed North, to introduce us to Darren Farley, a Liverpudlian ‘football comedian’ with a knack for sounding like Steven Gerrard.
All these ads feel very familiar, they celebrate, and are targeted at, a laddish culture that feels hackneyed, shallow and not very authentic. It’s easy to understand how disengaged adland has arrived here. From their Soho or Shoreditch eyries the equation seems obvious ’Betting = football = red-top reading, beer swilling, leery, beery, lads.
Betsafe recently took a very different approach, in their “No Bullshit Betting” advert they threw down the gauntlet to potential customers while telling them why they were unlikely to win. It was stylish, brave and fresh and I applaud them for taking the risk.
Will it change things? – I doubt it.
The industry has a herd mentality that is risk averse. It’s much easier for a marketing director to sign off on similar creative to everybody else, than risk their job and perhaps reputation on a chancy campaign. It’s understandable, but it results in samey, anodyne advertising that seems rooted in the early noughties. The problem with advertising in this industry, is that no one is prepared to take a gamble…
Keith Duddy is the co-founder and Head of Content at DICE LONDON, a Digital Marketing Agency that specialises in the gaming industry. A Television producer for over 20 years he has produced hundreds of hours of factual TV for a global audience