Before we consider FanDuel‘s new ad rolling out its online sportsbook in Pennsylvania, think of the typical sportsbook TV ad you’ve seen before.
They tend to feature a handful of bros on a couch shouting at a televised sports event, amid a background of pizza boxes and empty snack bowls.
They rarely involve farm animals.
FanDuel’s sportsbook ad based on strong hamwork
Now consider both the setting and the star for FanDuel’s new sportsbook rollout ad:
In a typical bowling alley, there’s a 900-pound pig named Marley and her owner on the cellphone:
Marley’s suave owner is basically a version of Rob Lowe-light, in a blue blazer with a pocket square. He is also placing sports bets with the FanDuel Sportsbook app on his cellphone. The sports teams showing on the screen vary by which PA TV market is airing the ad.
Fronting the seated owner is the whole hog, also seated.
The comic foils in the ad are an average suburban couple. They’re not too young, not too old, not too stylish, not too shabby, and they are bowling.
The woman skeptically asks the owner, “Can you do that here?”
That’s the set-up line for a message with a twist. Oblivious to the question’s aim, Marley’s owner explains he can bet anywhere in Pennsylvania now using FanDuel.
Promo ads usually hog the sportsbook market
Sow, what’s the big deal with this not-at-all boaring ad for FanDuel?
“It’s certainly a departure for us,” explained Steve Giraldi, FanDuel’s executive creative director.
The ad is a first of its type for FanDuel, aimed primarily at brand building, not details of betting or promo offers.
FanDuel already has some brand recognition in PA: The company offers the most successful retail and online sportsbooks in nearby New Jersey. And since March, it has operated a retail book at PA’s Valley Forge Casino Resort.
Giraldi calls the sportsbook space “extraordinarily crowded” with ads and competitors. As a result, Giraldi says the goal with his company’s hog wild ad is “disruption and distinction.”
“We were going for something off.”
But conventional promo ads and football-reference advertising, “product-centric” in Giraldi’s marketing-guy words, are in the pipeline for later.
Given FanDuel’s entrance into a new market bound to get more crowded, the company wants to initially offer a contrast to its competitors.
They also aim to build their brand’s recognition during the opening weeks.
Broadening the FanDuel customer pool
FanDuel’s aim with their opening ad campaign is “to broaden who we are speaking to,” adds Giraldi.
That means ads which might seem “big and sloppy” because they are not aimed just at younger male sports enthusiasts.
But that’s exactly the point.
As part of that broader target, the Marley ad is airing in the Philadelphia market during an entertainment news show, hardly a hotbed for recruiting traditional sports dudes, but fine for casting a wider net.
“That’s our media team intercepting all sorts of different folks. We wanted to open the aperture a bit of who we’re talking to.”
That said, there are ads planned “on a sliding scale” with varying degree of more in-depth details of sports wagering coming.
Is this FanDuel ad just hogwash?
Giraldi says the ad campaign is still in the early days, but, so far, FanDuel has gotten “nice notes back.”
But there still could be changes based on additional feedback.
“We slip and slide,” when a new campaign begins, per Giraldi. But that also means FanDuel can recalibrate if needed.
Giraldi says licensing Marley’s huge image was just too expensive for a billboard campaign, though there will be billboard ads as part of the introduction.
No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, Marley is playing.
FanDuel Spokesman Kevin Hennessy said,
“We have a robust television plan that will blanket the state of PA and we can’t wait for the people of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Harrisburg and more to meet Marley.”
Marley on the casting couch?
Shooting the commercial, while it mentions PA once, took place in Los Angeles.
Two pigs were in the running for the starring role, according to Giraldi, who emphatically called Marley the star of the ad.
There was a 300-pound pig to consider. Then there was Marley, whose 900 pounds, an enormous image, is shown in the commercial just as it was in real life.
Of course, Giraldi chose Marley for the visual impact.
However, trundling the giant pig from her home on a Santa Barbara ranch to a set in LA presented a few issues. Mats had to be in place in the bowling alley because pig’s feet and smooth floors presented a bit of a pickle.
Also, Marley learned on the set how to sit; something pigs don’t naturally do. Unless the pig sat, she blotted out the seated actor. Giraldi said the actor spent a day hanging around the swine to establish a rapport before the shooting day.
“They’re not Sonny and Cher,” but they have chemistry.”