Snake Oil & Widgets: Walk The Strap Line

TAGs: Editorial, iGaming, Marketing, Snake Oil & Widgets, tom galanis

A marketing slogan or strap line should summarize what a brand stands for in just a few words, ideally three—Just Do It, I’m Loving It or Always Coca Cola.

Snake Oil & Widgets: Walk The Strap LineIt doesn’t need to be descriptive, although many are, such as eBay’s The world’s online market place, but it should support brand positioning and communicate what the company is all about. It is the headline to demonstrate precisely where a company is positioned in the market compared to its competitors.

Easy right? Well, remarkably not, not least in the iGaming space, with its issues surrounding differentiation, covered in this column extensively in recent weeks.

Strap lines are commonplace and consistent in the FMCG space. They can often be as iconic as a brand logo or colour schemes, but as yet, their importance in the online gambling space has been somewhat undervalued and, when they have been used, the importance of longevity in a strap line has been lost on even the most successful of operators.

Ladbrokes is notorious for chopping and changing strategy and this is certainly reflected in their advertising slogans, which even include a spot of quite literally going back on their word(s).

2006: Got the feeling? Get to Ladbrokes

2007: Everyone’s got an opinion. What’s yours worth?

2008: Quench your thrill buds (Casino)

2010: Got the Feeling? Get to Ladbrokes

2011: Game On!

2014: This is the Ladbrokes Life

Changing a slogan is invariably linked to a new tie-up with an ad agency, whose pitch was inevitably won on the back of promising something earth-shatteringly creative to position the brand in to the perfect place within a heavily (read: barely) researched marketplace. Beyond increased budget spend, quite often all it does, especially changing things relatively frequently, is confuse an existing audience. Ladbrokes wasn’t doing all that bad in 2006…

An online business that was struggling back then was Coral. Significant product redevelopment and budget deployment has seen Ladbrokes’ retail competitor leap in to the digital action over the past 3 years. In fact, they’ve joined the party in 3 different campaigns since then.


2012 – Bring it on

2012 – Raising the Game

2013 – Stick one on it

Coral’s TV ad announcing that they intended to raise the game in 2012 was one of the best we’ve seen from a bookmaker in the UK. The slogan had the ideal 3 words, described the fact that they were taking betting to a whole new level (maybe it dawned on them that this wasn’t true) and had the potential to stick in the customer’s mind up to and past purchase. I have practically no idea what possessed them to dumb things down by hiring in the part-Italian dad of a former Welsh boxer, who must be related to Ladbrokes’ Tiziano Crudeli in some way, and, beyond pointless tomfoolery with an equally pointless supporting cast, getting him to utter the instantly forgettable ‘Stick one on it’ strap line (at least, that’s what I think he says). Coral maintains that this campaign is effective, so we’ll take their word for it—at least until they start inviting agencies to pitch again.

Another brand rolling with a weaker strap line than it used to is Betfair, although that can in part be blamed on its gradual product undifferentiation.

2007: Betting as it should be

2012: Don’t settle for less

2013: Let’s Play NJ

2014: This is Play

“Betting as it should be”, whilst longer than desired for a slogan, summed up what Betfair stood for to the customer when its sports betting offering rolled with “just” a betting exchange. Customers could relate to it and the strap line worked as a hook to learn the exchange betting ropes and build loyalty. The three they’ve used since, presumably concocted by a think tank of several Hammersmith GCSE dropout students doing work experience, must surely have done the opposite as they suffer with a gross lack of meaning or creativity.

Right, now for the positives. Hands up who knows who these belong to:

1) The Home of Betting

2) Bet In Play Now

3) Talk to Victor

4) We Hear You

No prizes for getting 4 from 4. Strong messages, on the whole, all supported by consistent campaigns and communication that is becoming increasingly familiar with customers and now serve as strong brand messages in their own right.

Plenty of iGaming companies are too quick to change things around – and I often wonder whether they ever consult subjective research from a pool of customers before doing so. A slogan or strap line shouldn’t be discarded as quickly as we see it done in our industry – unless your name is Partouche, who unforgivably ran with Bet to Forget back home in France once upon a time in fairly recent memory. Massive responsible gambling own goal with that one…

As we inevitably move to a more refined marketplace in the UK with the Point of Consumption tax coming to fruition, it is highly likely that a market with a more limited number of operators will seek to adopt strap line led campaigns as they bid to claim revised market share. Stay tuned for some gems (and inevitably, some duds) later this year.


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