There’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor preparation…

TAGs: Bodog Europe,, Calvin Ayre, Keith McDonnell, PartyGaming

The red doors of a London tube train seen through snow draped trees

The red doors of a London tube train seen through snow draped trees. Photo by KTo288

As Britain is crippled by the snow – a strange white stuff that appears every winter at least once somewhere on the island – it got me thinking about branding and preparation. Britain’s brand at the moment is suffering hugely, as people from countries such as Canada, Russia and regions in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia sit perplexed not just by our (the Brits) over excitement about the weather, but our fascination with, astonishment at and inability to deal with snow. As Keith McDonnell, MD of Bodog Europe, pointed out at the Bodog Christmas dinner, “Aren’t the train tracks the same in Siberia and isn’t the snow the same, why can’t we deal with it?”

For the second year running Britain has embarrassed itself when it comes to dealing with snow. What is true is that England in last 14 years or so has rarely had snow during the winter, instead the country experienced a more mild, wetter climate (remember the floods (strangely, a very similar reaction to those as to the snow now!). But the truth isn’t important, it is the perception that counts, and it is that perception that is helping to make a mockery of ‘Brand Britain’.

Had we prepared ourselves better, our brand would not be suffering. It’s the same for any entity, such as an industry or company, that wishes to appeal itself to an audience. Preparing (or training) the relevant stakeholders (from customer service, to marketers, to finance, to the MD) about how you would like to position your brand is essential.

In gambling, apart from the obvious brand ethos that Calvin created with, there are my friends, Simon Collins and Patrick Southon, who co-founded FoxyBingo (now part of PartyGaming) who, I think, excelled with their creation of the brand. I actually find the fox annoying (sorry Simon and Patrick!), but he is genius creation! And still (five years later), we haven’t seen as distinct a brand from the get go hit the market and make such an impression on players AND the mass market in general.

The fox embodies the fun to be had in FoxyBingo’s rooms. Without it, FoxyBingo is just another bingo room. The one thing that the fox has done in the UK is bring internet gambling to the masses. So not only has it contributed to its own brand but it has helped (in a good or bad way is debatable!) the brand of online gambling.

According to Chuck Brymer of Interbrand (world renowned brand agency), the three attributes of a brilliant brand are: built from a great idea, holds true to core purpose and value and employs brand as the central organising principle. I think all of these apply to FoxyBingo (even if their idea to use a fox was a little warped!).

Furthermore, the five great practices, according to Chuck, of the best brands are:
Continually deliver on brand promise
“It’s Foxy time!” – What does that even mean? Who cares! The players love it and they define it as whatever fun they want to have at the time they want to have it! How can they resist the lure of the fox posing Travolta style ala Saturday Night Fever! And weirdly, I have heard that some players experience ‘Fox Love’ (!?) – Not me, I might like to add!
Possess superior products, services and technologies
Foxy has one of the largest number of chat hosts in the industry, for example
Own a distinct position and deliver a unique customer experience
Again ‘It’s Foxy time!’ Plus, the start (rightly or wrongly) of free bingo with FoxyZero and also the launch of the casino FoxyFlutter – all tapping into their well-understood tight
Focus on ‘internal’ branding
If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Simon, Patrick, Michael, Noel, Spencer or Grace then you’ll know what I mean
Improve and innovate
They were certainly the first company I had heard that were taking players on bingo cruises when they started a few years back

I do hope that now FoxyBingo is at PartyGaming towers that it can retain its cheekiness and keep surprising us with how cheesy, fun and strangely loveable the fox can be – all of which feed into the brand’s identity.

Well, it’s not Foxy time for me; instead, I will sit back in front of the open fire and stare out into the Winter Wonderland and pour myself a wee dram of Whisky.

p.s. Please don’t point out the irony in me complaining about Brand Britain and in fact going on about the weather too. What can I say, I am British!


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