UK bookies William Hill intend to do away with their recently acquired Australian brands Sportingbet and Centrebet in order to avoid “confusion” in the Aussie betting marketplace. On Wednesday, Hills CEO Ralph Topping told the Australian Financial Review that the brands in question, which Hills acquired as part of its £454.9m takeover of Sportingbet’s operations in regulated markets, would be scrapped and absorbed under the “unifying” banner of William Hill.
The move stands in stark contrast to Topping’s comments in March, when he declared there would be no rebranding “for the foreseeable future.” (This just in: Topping can’t see further than six months down the road.) Topping said the elimination of Centrebet was a foregone conclusion, given its status as a “secondary brand.” As for Sportingbet, Topping believes there’s a likelihood it could be confused with Sportsbet, the online operation run by Hills’ rival Paddy Power. (Yes, that must be why Sportingbet almost solely relied on its lucrative Australian operations to keep the lights on pre-takeover.) Topping said Hills’ Aussie acquisitions were all strong brands “but I believe the strongest of the lot is potentially William Hill.”
Hills’ announcement came hot on the heels of UK rival Ladbrokes‘s arrival on Aussie shores via their £13m purchase of Gaming Investments Pty Ltd., the business behind the Bookmaker.com.au site. Like Hills, Ladbrokes also intends to rebrand its Aussie acquisition, which will operate under the Ladbrokes.com.au moniker. (Catchy, that.)
Hills doesn’t intend to rebrand its most recent Aussie add-on, TomWaterhouse.com, until at least December 2015, the date by which the site has to meet certain performance benchmarks in order to trigger A$70m worth of earn-out provisions stipulated in the purchase agreement. Hills may be regretting that inability to rid itself of the Waterhouse baggage, as a recent TV Tonight poll of 1200 Aussies revealed that Tom Waterhouse ads were among their top five grievances with Australian broadcasters. Technically, the complaints were more broadly directed at the prevalence of gambling ads in general, but editor David Knox told The Age that whenever viewers discussed betting adverts on his website, young Tom “becomes the villain.”
Anyway, here’s a sneak preview of Hills’ new ‘unified’ Aussie marketing… Think they were going for a Road Warrior leather theme, here…