The success of this weekend’s Jays Jersey Swap event in Toronto hosted by theScore Bet was another case study in how igaming operators can achieve success by taking a more long-term focus, with experiential authentic marketing that engages sports fans where they are.
There’s a lot of buzz in the market about the Jays now.
DraftKings Sportsbook said the Jays were the most bet-on sports team on their front over the past 12 months.
From Thursday through Sunday, sports fans could bring any professional sports jersey to Stackt Market close to the Rogers Centre and exchange it for a new Jays jersey – along with making a minimum $15 donation to Jays Care Foundation.
It’s the latest in a series of pop-up activations theScore Bet has been doing: 10X Tailgate Tour from football season, branded food trucks for the Jays brief playoff run last fall, and the Skyline Seating fan experience at last summer’s RBC Canadian Open.
Industry marketing executives have spoken about the benefits of branching off from the same old playbook in terms of generating brand awareness and prospecting for customers in Ontario’s ultra-competitive igaming marketplace.
That playbook involves the number of gambling ads on TV, which has been a big issue in some corners. Operators have also been spending large sums on team sponsorships, along with expansive billboard ads in places like Dundas Square in Toronto and a plethora of ads running on the sides of buses.
Connecting with sports fans, bettors, and prospective bettors at a grassroots one-on-one level is a more sustainable way to build up a brand, at least according to some igaming companies.
“We knew it was a compelling activation,” said theScore senior vice president of content and marketing Aubrey Levy, talking about the Jersey Swap. The first day of the event featured long lines. By Sunday afternoon, there were signs up indicating they were sold out. Levy said the response from Day 1 exceeded his expectations, in part due to the luck they had with the weather.
“This ties into our authentic activations,” he said. “The lens through which we think about things from a marketing perspective is how do we better service our fans? Last year’s overarching marketing campaign was to help users get into Bet Mode. At the core of that is, ‘What are we doing to make your life as a sports fan closer to the action, more engaging, more fun?’ The Jersey Swap was a unique way to help bring our fans closer our partnership (theScore has an exclusive long-term partnership with the Blue Jays) in a way that creates a lot of value for them.”
As BetRegal’s head of marketing Aly Lalani said last week during the industry’s one-year anniversary celebration, “Operators have to compete in an auction effectively to find outlets to support marketing strategies. It’s not a sustainable model when brands are willing to continuously outspend one another, seemingly without too much of a concern for profitability.”
BetRegal, still waiting on their AGCO license, will instead focus on similar grassroots activation programs like the one at Stackt Market. Lalani says that ultimately, it’s where the rubber will hit the road in terms of long-term sustainability for most Ontario operators.
Look for similar activations by theScore Bet this summer at the RBC Canadian Open at Oakdale Golf and Country Club in North York.
“If any one of these is the first time a user is experiencing our brand, are we doing the job to wow and excite them and to create the right brand impression?” Levy said. “Which also then satisfies the objective for users who know and love our brand. The approach we take there is similar. It’s not who’s the biggest athlete or the biggest name or buying the most media. It’s how do we authentically convey a message that ties back to the core brand?
“If we’re going to do a partnership, then we’ll go deep with that partnership to bring it to life and not just slap our logo on a back wall.”