There was a time not too long ago when you could not go more than a few minutes without seeing a commercial spot for the two warring daily fantasy companies; DraftKings and FanDuel. In an 18 month stretch the two combined to fill the coffers of ad sales folk at networks more than any brand outside of Viagra, and the spending, and the ROI was seemingly endless.
That was then. Then we had all the scrutiny, legal challenges and negativity around DFS, and many folks saw the business as dying. The get rich quick schemes came and went and suddenly a new light on the distant horizon, legalized sports gambling, began to shine bright.
Still, at least the two largest DFS brands, FanDuel and DraftKings, continued to raise money, add partners, maintain their data bases and kept on keeping on, and as sports gambling becomes more of a focus, could become even more relevant once again in the landscape.
Part of that relevance continues to be finding ways to cut through the clutter and keep the brand fresh and moving with a very volatile marketplace. There remain the requisite team and league deals that provide signage, but being unique and memorable outside of an arena, and without the massive budgets of old, is not easy.
In recent weeks FanDuel has stepped up the buzzworthy even more, from offering Bitcoins as prizes rather than cash payouts to the winner of its free NFL Wild-Card weekend tournament (with lots of restrictions and not a lot of casual use of course, but some great headline grabbing stories, and that was followed up by an increase in their use of former NBA star Christian Laettner in a series of fun videos which recently included naming the former Duke and NBA badboy CMO…Chief Motivational Officer. The videos went viral, and again got FanDuel in the conversation.
Is it the old school hard sell for signups? No. Is it keeping the brand fresh ad interesting in a growing time of transition? For sure. How is it working and why? We asked FanDuel Director of PR Kevin Hennessy to tell us more.
Bitcoin, funny content, certainly a departure from past efforts around daily fantasy. How does this tell the story of FanDuel as a brand today?
FanDuel was built around innovation and fun, it’s in our DNA. We disrupted the sports world when we used product innovation to build a brand new industry — daily fantasy sports. Fantasy sports are fun by nature, so using Adam Schefter and Christian Laettner to create humorous content was naturally cohesive with our brand. As our industry has become better understood and proved it’s here to stay, it’s important we stay culturally relevant, and find new and exciting ways to appeal to our customers.
What are some of the promotions resonating with the audience today, and is that audience steady or growing in say, the last year?
We want to be sure to give our customers great monetary prizes, but also offer a mix of cool experiences or unique prizes, like Bitcoin, whenever we can. There are a million reasons for people to play fantasy sports, so it’s important that we offer a wide variety of prizes and promotions to keep our growing customer base engaged and coming back to play.
FanDuel still has its name on some of the best real estate in sports; the courtside signage at Barclays Center for example. How valuable is that subtle reminder for fans as DFS goes through its latest evolution?
It’s valuable, but it’s only a part of our larger marketing mix. Sports fans are engaging with sports in new ways, so we have to adapt and make sure we are wherever they are — from their mobile phones to the stadiums they frequent.
Has the core player evolved in the past few years, and is what we are seeing in terms of these new promotions reflective of who is playing regularly today?
As we’ve continued to build out our product offering to reach the everyday sports fan, we’ve reached a broader range of players — from the hardcore DFS player to the more casual user. Our customers have always been early adopters of technology, so it made sense to do a contest where we offered Bitcoin as a prize.
Who is the casual player today and how do you get he or she engaged more versus when the business was at its height and there was a huge amount of money being spent on direct to consumer marketing?
We are constantly trying new things and building out new products. We continue to offer unique prizes, new game formats and new sports like golf and WNBA to appeal to more sports fans. Notably, we will be trying new contests on our site each week with new rosters, salaries and scoring options to give more options to fantasy sports fans.