Betfair challenges sports betting ad norms as it rails against ‘laddish’ advertising

Betfair is moving away from “laddish” advertising in a bid to change its image with consumers and become a “more credible” player in the betting market.

Betfair is shifting its strategy by moving away from laddish advertising, as it looks to become a more “distinctive and credible” brand and stand out in a cluttered market.

The brand launched a new campaign, created by Lucky Generals, yesterday (7 August). It will run across TV, radio, print, digital and social media in seven different European markets and taps into moments of anticipation around sport by asking a simple question: ‘Ready?’

Betfair’s marketing director Paul Gambrill told Marketing Week the brand decided to change its advertising approach as “too many brands are doing laddish advertising”.

“Everyone is using groups of guys in their ads. We have tried that too – we’ve had ads with guys sitting on sofas, and they performed well in the past. We now want to go to a place where nobody else is and push boundaries,” he said.

“Too many brands are doing laddish advertising. I like to think we’re ahead of that, as we’ve moved away from it and as a result will become even more credible. We’re not moving back to it any time soon.”

Paul Gambrill, marketing director, Betfair

Instead of following its usual set-up of showing various men in their early thirties hanging out, Betfair’s new ad takes a more mysterious tone and shows numerous athletes in training and psyching themselves up for a match.

Gambrill added that the brand is hoping the new advertising approach will change its brand image among consumers, as it has to stand out in a “cluttered” advertising market.

“Lots of [brands] have similar products, and even though we do feel ours are best in market, we need to make sure the brand is cutting through. TV is a cluttered space and there is lots of betting advertising on TV so we need to be noticed and make sure we’re distinctive.”

Avoiding conflict with Paddy Power

Last September, Paddy Power and Betfair announced they would be merging as part of a £5bn deal to create one of the world’s largest gambling businesses. Paddy Power, which also uses Lucky Generals, is infamous for using ‘laddish’ humour in its advertising, and has got in trouble with the ad regulator multiple times in the past.

However, Gambrill denies its new advertising strategy will lead to conflict with Paddy Power as “there is [still] a place for laddish humour”.

“If it’s timely and relevant, it can be done very well. Paddy Power is a brand that does this brilliantly and really does cut through in a way that appeals to people by being close to the edge sometimes. It works for them,” he commented.

Betfair is not the only brand to move away from laddish advertising. Last year, Fosters dropped its long-running ‘Good Call’ campaign – which featured fictional characters Brad and Dan giving ‘agony aunt’ style advice to male beer drinkers – in favour of a new campaign in the hope it would draw in both sexes.

READ MORE: How brands are moving on from lads’ mag culture

Meanwhile, Lynx, one of the brands famed for putting ‘lad culture’ into the mainstream, says it has left those themes behind in favour of more mature marketing.

Lynx marketing manager David Titman told Marketing Week it is important for brands to evolve with their target audience.

He explained: “Brands have to move on from the 1990s. The way [men] appear and interact with the world has fundamentally changed and brands need to update the way they appeal to these modern men.


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