Round-up: The Fan Engagement Podcast ep #5

By Genius Sports | 20 Jun 2023

On episode 5 of The Fan Engagement Podcast, host Megan Cain was joined by Jennifer Matthews, VP of Brand Strategy at FanDuel.

Just over five years on from the repeal of PASPA and the U.S. sports betting market has changed beyond recognition. With 33 states and Washington D.C. live and regulated, the market has exploded amidst a flurry of acquisitions, marketing campaigns and sponsorship deals.

With over 17 million customers and counting, FanDuel have been one of the driving forces behind this explosive growth, evolving into a “fan-focused sports technology and entertainment company” according to Jennifer Matthews, VP of Brand Strategy. Here's what we learned on episode five of The Fan Engagement Podcast.

Listen to the full episode.

‘Let people experience the product to drive brand loyalty’

FanDuel began life as a leading daily fantasy sports provider almost 15 years ago. However, in the last five years it has grown into one of the U.S.’ largest sports betting brands. As VP of Brand Strategy, Jen outlined how she oversees all FanDuel advertising across product, creative and social media with a team primarily responsible for “getting more people into the platform and letting them experience it.”

Like many brands targeting sports audiences, FanDuel faces fierce competition. With legalised online sports betting still new to many Americans, it’s approach first begins with product education before more targeted acquisition tactics to convert new users.

Jen said: “We understand you’re tying your bank account to our product; it can be scary so a lot of what we’re trying to do is ease that feeling and let them feel less intimidated…We know that the more engaged they are with our product, the more likely they are to keep coming back”.

In an increasingly noisy advertising world, sportsbooks need cut-through brand building and acquisition tactics - and FanDuel has put education and product-centricity trust at the heart of theirs.

‘Create a bespoke marketing strategy in each state’

Even for a household name in U.S. sports like FanDuel, brand differentiation is crucial yet it’s not an easy feat. In every state, FanDuel aims to speak to fans in a local, authentic voice.

“We try and do our best to really feel local, even though it’s obviously a national brand.” said Jen, who also cited how in New York and Massachusetts, FanDuel engages fans by tying campaigns to iconic landmarks and local sports teams.

For example, in The Big Apple, FanDuel’s creative and messaging incorporates the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and New York Subway. Meanwhile, the brand’s partnership with the Boston Bruins gave it direct access to local sports audiences. “[It helps us] talk to their fans and tell them we’re a partner, this is who you should be betting with,” added Jen.

With sports engagement different across states, FanDuel has enjoyed great success with localised, fan-first marketing.

‘Launch a Super Bowl ad with a common goal’

Every marketer knows the power of the Super Bowl for engaging sports audiences and at Super Bowl LVII, FanDuel set out to connect with fans by inspiring them behind a common goal, headlined by a half-time TV ad. But unlike other TV commercials, its Super Bowl LVII ad was filmed and broadcast completely live.

As part of the brand’s ‘Kick of Destiny’ campaign, FanDuel challenged legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski to a kick a field goal in order to release $10m in free bets. “Not many brands can really get people to gather behind something.” said Matthews. “How can we get everyone to root for the same thing?”

The result? Over two million bets were wagered during the game, helped largely by 38-35 final score but also the authentic brand positioning FanDuel carved with its live commercial. At peak times, over 50,000 in-game bets were processed per minute.

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