Exploding basketball heads or an epic monologue by Wayne Gretzky? It seems both can work in marketing campaigns for online casinos and sportsbooks.
That truth has become ever-apparent over the past month as operators hit the ground running in Ontario’s new online wagering market.
Outside of the offerings, markets and signup perks, businesses have been getting very creative with advertising.
Here I offer up my ranking of the six best campaigns to date.
6. FanDuel: Responsible gaming tools (Watch Here)
While not as flashy as its counterparts, FanDuel has already delivered a great message in its Canadian debut.
And that’s worthy of recognition.
In its 15-second ad, the operator sets the stage for a two-person conversation.
The pair discuss FanDuel’s responsible gaming tools and how bettors can help manage their play. Features such as limits on time, wagers and deposits are all advertised.
And while Problem Gambling Awareness Month may have passed, it is a year-round discussion.
As more operators explore the Canadian market, more money – and problems – will follow. FanDuel is getting ahead of the curve in this regard. And that is an admirable approach in its opening month.
The campaign for responsible gaming is pinned on the sportsbook’s official Twitter page. It’s the first thing visitors see when visiting the profile.
5. Rivalry: Bet on sports, bet on Rivalry (Watch here)
It will be hard to forget Rivalry’s marketing presence, if nothing else.
Think bad psychedelic trip takes over your favourite childhood cartoon show. Exploding basketball heads, a dunking dinosaur and a laser-beaming reindeer all appear in the homegrown sportsbook’s introductory ads.
Yeah – it’s weird, as mentioned.
But it also fits quite perfectly with Rivalry’s overall branding.
The operator is first and foremost known for esports betting.
That’s why over-the-top facial distortions, flashy colours and overall fantasy world make more sense once you step back from the weirdness. In fact, when punters visit Rivalry’s website meet with a unique blend of sports and gaming elements.
“Thug life” sunglasses on a dunking Houston Rockets player? Well, using the Rivalry “R” fits there, so that probably gets them around copyright issues.
Only at Rivalry.
4. PointsBet Canada: This is how we play sports (Watch here)
PointsBet Canada said it wanted to provide its patrons with an “authentically Canadian” experience.
Apparently, that equated to employing Bubbles, Ricky and Julian from the Trailer Park Boys.
Whether curling or hockey, the boys blunder their way through a series of sports in its “This Is How We Play Sports” campaign.
In each, after 50 seconds of hilarious futility, Julian becomes the voice of reason, pulling his boys off the ice.
He ends the commercials by saying, “This is how we play sports,” and flashing the PointsBet Canada app toward the viewer.
It is actually a pretty well-thought-out campaign – comedy, action and clarity. And other Canadian athletes are even on board.
For instance, in the curling commercial two-time World Curling Champion Kevin Koe is present to give his helpful pointers.
So why only No. 4 on this list?
Not enough swearing.
3. BetMGM: With every tap, a new legend is born (Watch here)
BetMGM couldn’t have gone a more different route than its counterparts.
But it works.
In an epic 30-second monologue, Wayne Gretzky seamlessly takes gamblers through the earthshattering potential of each wager.
Complete with a freshly cut suit and sprawling 100-foot-plus glacier sculptures as Gretzky passes, it is a campaign worthy of The Great One.
Like Caesars, BetMGM Sportsbook has long positioned itself as a sophisticated and luxurious operator in the market. Look no further than its brand colours of black and gold that hint at luxury and wealth.
Another example is with another brand ambassador, Jamie Foxx. In his highly-visible campaigns for The King of the Sportsbooks, Foxx always looks sharp in a dark green suit.
Not everyone is on board with Gretzky’s campaign – or involvement with the gambling industry. Just going through the YouTube comments can show that.
The NHL great became BetMGM’s Canadian brand ambassador in June 2021.
2. theScore Bet: Get your bet on (Watch here)
TheScore Bet’s campaign is relatable to anyone ever confused, stressed or distracted when placing a bet.
So just about everybody, ever.
In its Get Your Bet On campaign, everyday punters are given expert advice from a trio of celebrities in Susie Essman, Rex Lee and Gerry Dee.
Lee helps one fellow deal with an annoying ex-girlfriend breaking his concentration while placing a wager.
Meanwhile, Essman handles the problem in another fashion.
She spends her appearance cussing out anyone in sight, including a large man blocking the TV, with such ire even the Trailer Park Boys might blush. The acting throughout is playful and engaging by all.
It also encompasses the wide range of emotions betting can elicit. But, whether theScore Bet’s players have unleashed like Essman is entirely another question.
1. BetRivers: Find your rhythm with BetRivers (Watch here)
It’s tacky, colourful and annoying.
But that flash is the key to what makes the Find you Rhythm with BetRivers campaign even more awesome.
I know many punters will hate this top-pick selection. And it’s likely more than a few bettors have slammed on mute faster than you can say BetRivers when hearing this jingle over the airwaves.
But it’s an earworm.
There’s something so lovable about a person – or song in this case – that is so unapologetically corny. And with BetRivers lauding itself as the “online casino with an award-winning service,” the ad makes even more sense.
It’s approachable, funny and a great way to enter the Ontario market. Even as I write this, I can’t help but hum that silly tune in my head.
That makes it a winning marketing campaign in my book.
Honourable mention: Buddybet
Just outside of our top six is Buddybet’s Who wins this tug off?
We’ll just leave the image here (as tweeted by PlayCanada’s managing editor) and let you decipher what is going on.
Athletes signing with sportsbooks: Marketing campaigns about to pop off?
Marketing campaigns could get even juicier soon as well.
NHL MVP Connor McDavid recently signed with BetMGM as a brand ambassador in an unprecedented move. The deal made McDavid the first active professional player from the four major sports leagues to sign with a sportsbook.
As a result, expect the Edmonton Oiler to soon be all over BetMGM’s marketing campaigns.
Of course, punters will remember hockey’s GOAT – Gretzky – is also a brand ambassador for the betting giant. But having the league’s current MVP endorse the sportsbooks brings an entirely different type of relevance.
Baseball is also following suit.
The MLB allows players to enter into promotional and endorsements contracts with legal betting sites per its new collective bargaining agreement.
Ontario online gambling is sizzling hot (and still rising)
There is already quite a bit of variety in Ontario’s live wagering market when it comes to offerings and marketing strategies.
Sixteen operators are active in the province at publication, with more on the way, including sports streaming giant DAZN.
Regardless of who enters, advertisements should only get more fun as competition heats up.
Let the cream rise to the top.