SBC News João Pedro Dobes, Vasco da Gama: Conscious communication vital for Brazil betting sponsors
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João Pedro Dobes, Vasco da Gama: Conscious communication vital for Brazil betting sponsors

For operators seeking a foothold in Brazil’s emerging betting market, sponsorship is an ideal avenue to build a brand and connect with sports fans via a highly valued local institution, the football club.

These companies will have some key caveats to consider, however, both in terms of Brazilian betting regulations and in how clubs expect sponsorships to pan out. In an interview with SBC Noticias for the SBC Leaders magazine, João Pedro Dobes, Commercial Manager at Vasco da Gama, shared his views.

Clubs plan on taking responsible gaming standards very seriously as part of any partnerships they engage in, Dobes explains. He notes that a lack of financial education in Brazil has made responsible gaming a “key issue” for sports clubs and gaming firms alike.

“It’s important that both Vasco and the sports betting operators communicate consciously, informing the general public about the risks of sports betting and taking care not to give the impression that sports betting are an investment alternative, when in fact it should be a moment of leisure,” he says.

“When it comes to preventing match-fixing, Vasco has a strong internal policy on responsible gambling and preventing match-fixing. Our compliance department works hard to educate employees and footballers about the impact of such acts and the consequences they bring, having a conversation with all employees at least once a year.

“The commercial sector, which is responsible for managing all sponsorship agreements, works on a daily basis with the sponsoring sports betting operator and with the areas within Vasco that are responsible for curating and the content and communication that is created for the Vasco fans.”

The launch of a Brazilian nationwide betting market is a long awaited moment for both local and international stakeholders, having been closed under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro before coming to fruition under his successor, Lula da Silva.

Legislation for the launch was signed off by President da Silva just before New Year in late 2023. Sponsorship had been debated by the Deputies and Senators of Congress during the months-long legislative process, but was ultimately approved – opening a new revenue stream for clubs like Vasco.

“Sponsorships are beneficial to Vasco da Gama in many ways,” Dobes says. “Sponsorships are a way of differentiating the club’s revenues and strengthening it as a brand, connecting the fan to the sponsoring brand, and creating stronger links between the brand and its customer. 

“The club generates value for the brand’s client through money-can’t-buy-experiences, the association of the sponsoring brand with Vasco, which is a centenary and victorious institution, the communication with Vasco’s extensive database, and the awareness generated by the brand’s exposure with Vasco in online and offline media.”

However, revenue is not the only factor clubs like Vasco – which has signed deals with local operator EstrellaBet and international firm Betfair – are considering, Dobes elaborates. Brand alignment is a key factor for these teams, and operators should keep this in mind when looking for prospective partners.

“We select our sponsors thinking not only about the revenue that could be generated to Vasco da Gama but also on the brand alliance that is about to be created,” Dobes continues.

“There are two ways of seeing in, we either try to partner with a strong and traditional brand in the sports betting market or we look for a newcomer that is innovating and bringing in new ideas to work with the football club.”

Two final factors to consider are responsibility and compliance with Brazil’s regulations around protections – protecting the integrity of the game, as Dobes notes above, and the safety of betting customers.

Responsibility also needs to be factored in when drafting marketing campaigns, he adds. The significance of European developments is hard to downplay here, with the UK, Netherlands and Belgium, among other countries, holding sports marketers to stricter standards when it comes to including players in any material.

Dobes adds: “Involving players in activities related to responsible behaviour regarding the gambling industry is crucial. Football players are role models for a large part of football fans, especially children. 

“These players must be well aware of their impact over society, when it comes to their marketing campaigns, what is said off the pitch and who they are associating their personal brands to.”

As Brazil prepares to launch its first nationwide betting market, clubs like Vasco da Gama are seeking the opportunities this milestone will bring. Finding the right partners, ensuring compliance with regulations and writing responsibility into marketing will define how these relationships develop.

Read João Pedro Dobes’ full interview with SBC Noticias HERE

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