Betfair is returning to its roots with a new campaign that puts its peer-to-peer betting exchange front-and-centre in a bid to appeal to early adopters and novices alike.

Taking creative inspiration from Oscar-winning film The Big Short and the way its characters use simple analogies to explain complex concepts, Betfair has enlisted the help of actor Clive Owen to demystify the process of peer-to-peer betting.

The campaign, devised by Leo Burnett London, features 40 individually scripted ads using real-life scenarios and analogies to simplify the betting process. Running online and across TV, radio and social, the campaign covers everything from the benefits of using the exchange to how to set your own odds.

The advertising has been designed “with a digital lens”, explains brand director Stephen Mault, who is convinced the old school method of editing down a 30-second TV ad for online is dead.

In fact, Betfair plans to spend less money on advertising around live sport and has moved more media spend over to digital as the whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising comes into force for the 2019/2020 football season, starting with the Championship this weekend.

Mault believes the whistle-to-whistle ban is a big opportunity for brands that want to be progressive and have a desire to innovate.

“It’s a real opportunity for us to take the lead and not just rely on 30-second TV ads during live Premier League football,” he tells Marketing Week.

“We will look to reach our audience on other channels and other times, communicating the message through digital, which allows us to take them on more of a journey, as opposed to relying on 30-second TV ads to do the trick.”

As well as bringing the campaign to life online, Betfair wants to break down barriers to understanding peer-to-peer betting with the introduction of an education hub featuring bite-size tips on how to use the exchange.

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Betfair knows the education piece is crucial if it wants to stand out in a highly competitive gambling market and reach bettors looking for a different experience.

On the Betfair Exchange, which makes more trades than the London Stock Market, the price is set by individuals, not the bookmaker. Bettors set the odds at the level they think is right; the volume of bets coming in and out will show if the market thinks it is fair. Players can suggest odds, ‘back’ a bet or place a ‘lay’ bet, which is betting on an outcome not to happen.

If a player decides to take the bet and puts money into the market the pot grows. The overall pot of money people can bet against is known as the liquidity.

Players on the Betfair Exchanges can bet on everything from Premier League football to when the UK will leave the EU.

Politics is one of the hottest topics on the exchange, with the 2016 US presidential election becoming Betfair’s biggest ever traded market on the exchange. The staggering £119m pot dwarfs any other event in the brand’s history, including World Cup finals.

“We’ve found the prices on political bets have been much more accurate on the exchange than traditional bookmakers, because it’s what people actually think,” Mault explains.

“Parties spend an awful lot of money on polling to get an understanding of what people think, whereas on the exchange there’s no better place if you believe something to put some money on it. More often than not the exchange is a really good and true reflection of what a nation thinks.”

Gaining brand cut through

The level of flexibility, combined with the fact you are not betting against a faceless bookie, has made the exchange popular with punters since it set out to disrupt the market in 2000.

Mault compares it to the Netflix or Uber of its day, democratising the market at a time when everyone was used to betting with a traditional bookmaker on the high street.

“Betfair created a new way of doing it, taking the bookmaker out of it, charging a commission on winning bets and allowing customers to set the price,” says Mault.

“It allowed people to bet on the price they thought was fair because it was made up by themselves and other punters, as opposed to a bookmaker putting a price down and saying do you want it or not?”

Hoping to tap into this heritage of thinking differently to the rest of the market, Betfair also wants to build on the ‘guts meets smarts’ messaging of its 2018 campaign, which represented an attempt to elevate the brand in a crowded market.

The whistle-to-whistle ad ban is a real opportunity for us to take the lead and not just rely on 30-second TV ads during live Premier League football.

Stephen Mault, Betfair

Betfair is, therefore, pitching itself as the destination for considered bettors who want to get as much insight as possible before placing a bet. Mault describes the Betfair customer as someone who uses their intelligence to think through a bet before placing it. This is why, he believes, Clive Owen is a great fit for the new campaign as his persona evokes a sense of sophistication that will keep the audience engaged.

Across the gambling landscape, brands are fighting to stand out. That can be through the highly stylised feel of William Hill’s new black and white advert with its brand ambassador, the boxer Anthony Joshua, or Paddy Power’s play to become the football fan’s champion with its ‘Save Our Shirt’ campaign.

“As a category we haven’t delivered the most engaging and emotional advertising over the years. Everything can be quite rational in the betting sphere, just talking about price and offers and really lacking in emotion and brand-led pieces,” Mault notes.

“Now, more brands are starting to understand we need to be more emotional and appeal to customers in a slightly different way and grow brand affinity, rather than being quite so direct response, which is why the category is changing slightly. But I would still say there are an awful lot of brands stuck in their ways, being very direct-response focused and shouting at customers.”





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