William Hill slams competitors for ‘white van man’ approach

William Hill says it is differentiating itself from other gambling businesses, focusing on a single message and emulating content focused brands including Stella Artois, Nike and O2.

William Hill says it is updating its marketing strategy to focus on one idea at a time, rather than “pushing” five or six themes through its ads, as it says that its competitors aren’t getting it right and are focusing too much on the “white van man cliché”.

The move comes with the release of its latest TV campaign, which focuses on the notion of a “fast world”, as it advertises the brand’s app, which the company says is now faster and more customer friendly. The ad focuses on the ‘need for speed’ and plays upon the idea of fast dating, fast cars and fast food. In one scene a man in a McLaren sports car is overtaken by a man on a bicycle to represent the app’s focus on speed.

The ad will air on TV but will also be rolled out through other media including press and online banners. Peter Spiers, head of advertising and content at William Hill tells Marketing Week the campaign is part of a “wider, disruptive move”, but that he still believes in TV as a medium as there is “no substitute for large TV format screens”.

Spiers says the ad shows how the company is moving away from focusing on all William Hill’s channels “all at once”. Spiers believes this will allow it to deliver one “brand impact” instead of many.


The ad also shows a man in normal clothes emerging from a lift in a suit. Spiers says:

“It represents the concept of speed and how things move so quickly, because in today’s world you can move up from being an apprentice or a graduate and achieve obvious success.”

Spiers says the ad shows how the company has made the app’s performance and user journey faster by reducing the number of clicks, holds and swipes.

“William Hill stands for innovation and service, and the pursuit of making things better for our customers. We believe that if you throw seven balls at someone they won’t catch one, but if you throw one, they might have a chance of catching it,” he adds.

The campaign was directed by Hollywood director Paul WS Anderson, who has worked on Resident Evil and Alien vs Predator. Anderson was appointed to move the brand in a more content-led direction.

“I have always found it baffling how our competitors feel the need to revert to the lowest common denominator, white van man clichés

Peter Spiers, William Hill

“Our consumers are also buying from Stella, O2, Playstation, Nike and Guinness and all those brands give their consumers interesting stories,” Spiers says.

Spiers believes that by tapping into the “entertaining” marketing methods these companies use, William Hill is differentiating itself further from its competitors.

“I have always found it baffling how our competitors feel the need to revert to the lowest common denominator, white van man clichés, about lads in a pub watching football and punting, or lads playing five-a-side football and punting, or even worse, retired ex footballers watching lads, watching football and punting,” he said.

Spiers believes it is important for the brand to understand that it is competing with the “precious leisure time” of consumers, which includes competing against the likes of “Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, the cinema and those playing football”.

He says the brand is moving away from price-focused offers and that it differentiates itself by standing for innovation, service and disruption.

“Today’s ad sees a real change and a redefinition of the category and of bookmaker advertising. It will be interesting to see how competitors react to that,” Spiers says.