On 4 April 2022, the Ontario sports betting market will expand to include commercial sportsbooks. Already, many operators are chomping at the bit to get in on the action. Chief among them is Toronto native theScore.
In anticipation of the new opportunity, theScore has launched its “Get Into Bet Mode” marketing campaign, targeting Ontario bettors.
The campaign “brings to life what we think is one of the core differentiators of our product. Our differentiated experience is this integration between media and betting, how theScore and theScore Bet together provide bettors a seamless, easy way to bring betting into and around media consumption.”
That’s according to Aubrey Levy, theScore’s SVP of content and marketing. He continues: “One of the core pillars of that is our Bet Mode feature, which basically is the connection point between theScore and theScore Bet. As we were thinking about what the right message was, as we flex and push multi-channel and above the line, we knew we really wanted to lean into this unique value proposition.”
Levy calls “Get Into Bet Mode” a personification of what theScore does as an organisation and as a product line.
“It brings to life this notion that we’re removing barriers for you as a bettor, to make your betting life simpler,” he says.
In essence, get your bets in and get back to enjoying your day. theScore wants to make that process as simple as possible. That’s where the campaign concept came from, Levy says.
“How can we help you get into bet mode and how can we bring that to life in everyday ways that are entertaining but also supporting our value proposition?” he asks.
The campaign’s flagship piece of content is a two-minute video, which you can watch here:
The spots will roll out on various channels, including on TV, radio, digital and theScore’s own assets.
“We’re flexing our message outwards for a few reasons,” Levy says. “Mainly, it’s our home market. We have brand recognition and an unparalleled user base here. We’ve sprinkled in some elements that our Ontario users will appreciate that a US audience might not.”
One example, Levy notes, is the appearance of Canadian television personality Gerry Dee in the TV spot. Dee contributed content to theScore in the company’s TV days. “Leaning into some talent that we know plays very well reinforces why users love us in Ontario and Canada,” Levy says.
The dominos are all lined up, and all that remains is a quick push to start the cascade. When that chain reaction begins, theScore hopes to be a clear leader in the Ontario sports betting market. As the “Get Into Bet Mode” name suggests, theScore’s Bet Mode feature will be key in driving user engagement and building a loyal Ontario fan- and player-base.
What, then, is Bet Mode? Levy says it’s a “comprehensive suite of features that allows you to see live odds and markets, follow your bets, build your bet slip within theScore’s media platform, see cashout offers, and more”.
Bet Mode – using theScore’s existing media product – lets users do as much as they possibly can without actually placing bets. The actual wagering then happens in theScore Bet, the company’s sportsbook. “We’re bringing you relevant contextual betting information within theScore,” Levy says. “The purpose is to simplify your experience and make betting supportive of your viewing, rather than taking time away from watching the game.”
That concept is reflected in the campaign. “Our heroes are our bettors,” Levy says. “They’re the primary protagonists of both our product and our campaign, supported by a few strategically placed ‘Bet Mode’ talent, who swoop in and basically unblock a bunch of different annoyances and friction points in their lives.”
The three characters supporting the bettors are played by Rex Lee, Gerry Dee and Susie Essman. Each helps the campaign’s bettor protagonists get into bet mode and invested in the action. Rex Lee facilitates, Gerry Dee offers endlessly fadeable picks, and Susie Essman stands up for a bettor who won’t stand up for himself.
Any cursory review of the sportsbook ad landscape in the US will reveal a different approach. US books slap big names into their TV spots, leveraging partnerships with teams and big bonuses to draw in users. Levy hopes this new approach will further differentiate theScore from its competitors.
“The vast majority of creative over the past three years has been promo-led,” Levy says. “We think our’s breaks off because it’s entertaining unto itself. Also, in Ontario the rules are different. You can’t run those heavy-inducement ‘sign up and get this now’ creatives through television, out-of-home and radio. The government isn’t allowing that, so you have to lean into brand creative.”
Levy notes that theScore worked in partnership with Diamond Marketing Group on the campaign’s creative and strategy. The “Get Into Bet Mode” campaign isn’t a one-and-done deal, however. Levy highlights the flexibility of the concept.
“We certainly built it to be extendable,” he says. “We built it so the campaign has legs. We’re going to adapt, see how things build. This notion of getting into bet mode is intended to be a brand platform we can expand.”
That extendable quality is founded on a unique perspective, one that doesn’t rely too heavily on a big name or a massive bonus. “For us,” Levy says, “talent must be supportive of the theme. This isn’t about putting the biggest celebrity we can find in front of our campaign. This is about leveraging talent very strategically to support the message. Each one of the performers in our spot satisfies a specific role, which identifies a human behaviour in and around betting, hopefully in an entertaining way.”
It’s certainly a new approach compared to existing ad spots in the sportsbook market, particularly stateside. Levy again emphasises the need for bettors to be the focus. “The talent is there to support the bettors. The heroes of our campaign are bettors.”
Still, the personas portrayed by Lee, Dee and Essman have some staying power. But they’re not the be-all and end-all. When asked if he might have other personas or characters in mind, Levy kept the response vague: “We had to whittle it down, look at what worked for production and point to a number of personas or scenarios we could lean on.”
In the future, we might see new characters emerge as the campaign continues.
From theScore’s media platforms, to theScore Bet sportsbook, to the campaign itself, Levy wants to welcome casual and seasoned bettors alike.
“theScore’s app is a personalised product,” he says. “It’s as deep and robust as you want it to be. You want to go down a total rabbit hole about your favourite college team? We’ve got you covered. You just want top-level Leafs and Raptors scores? We can do that, too. To have a campaign that felt equally approachable was important to us.”
Staying true to the bettor experience was crucial to theScore. “Do these situations feel authentic, credible, elevated and funny?” Levy wanted such a question to drive the campaign and creative. He cites Gerry Dee’s role in the TV spot as a prime example. “You could be the most hardcore bettor or you could be a casual bettor, but that interaction with a friend who think he knows everything is a very real scenario, a real interaction that happens across the spectrum.”
Summing it all up – the campaign, the sportsbook, the media, and the impending launch – one word springs to mind: excitement.
“Everybody is tremendously excited,” Levy says. “Ontario is a totally different ball game for us and we are going to approach it with that in mind. There’s a tremendous amount of excitement and now anticipation that we’re on the precipice.”
As of this writing, theScore Bet sportsbook and casino is now open for pre-registration ahead of the Ontario launch.