Why the bookies love famous faces

Big name sports stars looking to keep bringing home the bacon post-retirement have a few options these days. Ray_Winstone_2014

From attempting to emulate GNev’s punditry on Sky Sports, the usual route of remaining in the game as a manager, coach, scout or agent to opening a carp fishery in France if you’re Lee Bowyer, there’s another choice becoming all the more popular.

Many are agreeing deals with bookmakers to become brand ambassadors. This season the likes of Michael Owen, Roberto Carlos, Frankie Dettori, Glenn Hoddle, Ally McCoist, Chris Kamara and Jimmy Bullard have deals in place and that’s just skimming the surface.

Not all operators go for former players of course with one of the most famed ambassadors being bet365’s Ray Winstone, of ‘The Departed’ and ‘Sexy Beast’ fame.

With ever more sportsbooks vying for punters’ increasingly fickle attention spans, attaching a famous face to a betting brand is very much commonplace. Indeed some bookmakers have more than one… just ask Team Betsafe.

The value of these deals is incalculable but naturally lies in the marketing campaigns and how these celebrities are utilised. The bet365 and Winstone example is a case in point. Whilst these ads gained infamy for the obnoxious giant floating head of Winstone appearing on screen at every ad break during a match bellowing advice and offers, the bookmaker kept the actor as its face for years for a reason.

The odds portrayed in these ads were live and it was its focus on in-play back in 2012 which, in part, resulted in the company’s notable growth over the following few years. People have complained that Winstone’s tips lost them money but that seemingly didn’t stop them betting on them or at the least taking note.

The bookmaker’s Linkedin description highlights the importance of live betting in its growth. It reads: “It was Denise’s decision to focus on In-Play betting that enabled it [bet365] to forge its leadership position. The gamble paid off. In-Play has been fundamental to bet365’s success and remains the cornerstone of the business.”

Of course it doesn’t always work out. For its Australian launch in 2012 bet365 signed up Samuel L Jackson for its initial television advertising campaign. The company reportedly lost in the region of $36.2m in its debut year in Oz, with even Jules himself unable to attract punters and prevent such an expensive blow.

It’s not enough to merely have a well known face; there needs to be a planned strategy too. Tipico, for example, has gone down the route of signing up legendary keepers; Peter Schmeichel, Oliver Khan and Michael Konsel for its respective target markets of Denmark, Germany and Austria.

At the Betting on Sports conference in September (15-16) one of the numerous panels across the two days is focused on how bookmakers can use the ambassadorial role to reach an audience and ensure ROI.


It will feature two experts in this area; CEO at Argyll Entertainment Stuart Tilly and Heavyweight Sports Founder Adam Roland.

Argyll Entertainment is the company behind betting brand BetonBrazil which prominently features talkSPORT host Alan Brazil as its ambassador. Heavyweight Sports meanwhile is a PR company which Roland founded ten years ago after heading up commercial sponsorships and promotions teams with talkSPORT and Bauer Media.

Roland has worked with the likes of Ricky Hatton, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Alan Shearer, Nicklas Bendtner’s lucky pants and more.

You can read more about the conference, which is being held in association with the BiG Foundation Dinner on the Friday evening, by clicking here.

Got your finger on the pulse when it comes to betting and its ambassadors? Take our #bettingonsports BiG Betting Brand Ambassadors Quiz and prove yourslef…



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