Ladbrokes: although based on a strong strategy, the ad is cliched and potentially irritating

Ladbrokes football pundits Chris Kamara and Tiziano Crudelli feature
Ladbrokes football pundits Chris Kamara and Tiziano Crudelli feature

Online gambling and dating have exploded over the past five years. I have experience of neither, but I do see myself as a potential punter in the gambling arena. I'm not ruling out online dating, by the way; I'm just not sure my wife would be entirely supportive, even if I were doing it under the guise of agency research.

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Ladbrokes is the biggest betting agency in the UK and a world-leader in the gaming and betting market. Given the brand's strong position, this recent work is aimed at existing punters and encourages them to spend more, rather than targeting fresh customers.

The ad is shouty and spoofy. At first glance, you're led to believe it's a misguided shampoo ad, starring football pundit Chris Kamara, which is one part Head & Shoulders, one (small) part Old Spice. However, it's quickly and loudly revealed to be a spoof when Tiziano Crudelli, the Italian football commentator who has gained infamy online, gatecrashes the scene and orders Kamara to promote Ladbrokes instead. To finish, the ad cuts to an iPhone frame featuring a current 'flash-sale' promotion with tempting, yet temporary, odds.

I like the flash-sale as a strategy.

I can see the attraction of making gambling seem more spontaneous, more exciting, more rewarding, and promoting it to an already engaged audience. Ladbrokes is not alone in using this marketing tactic. It's also not the only brand adopting this type of ad format, with different promotions slotted into the smart iPhone final frame. It's cost-effective, too, as it can reuse the same 'skin' for other promotions.

The tone of the work is fun, as it should be, but I do have a couple of watch-outs. It's trying to be funny and irreverent and doing an OK job. In terms of humour pitch, Paddy Power is the 2/1 favourite, Ladbrokes is second at 5/1, with William Hill a distant 12/1, due to some very ordinary work.

Featuring ex-sportsmen as your stars is always going to be risky as they are not the greatest performers, with the exception of the heroic Eric Cantona. However, using the spoof, cliched ads as a vehicle, where overacting is mandatory and believability isn't, does help mask that. My concern is that, given the reusable tactical format, it does mean the main ad has to be a belter, as anything else will get tired quickly.

Sometimes you have to just accept the simple truths. No one likes being shouted at. I toyed with writing this piece entirely in caps just to prove a point. Aren't you glad I didn't? While it might be funny initially to be bellowed at by a moustachioed Italian commentator, after very few viewings, it begins to irritate.

Brand strategy verdict: 6 out of 10

The figure below is the ad's score, and not the odds of its success. The strategy is strong; tapping into the flash-sale retail tactic will re-engage Ladbrokes' audience and offer them an incentive. The ad itself is OK. I can see what it's trying to do, I just don't think it quite works. If anything, it feels a bit safe, even if Tiziano Crudelli is a liability.

Adwatch (Sept 12) Top 20 recall: Ladbrokes
Latest Sep-05 Brand Agency/TV Buyer Recall
rank       %
1 (–) Plenty  Publicis/Carat 45
2 (9=) DFS  Krow/MediaCom 44
3 (–) Mars
Abbott Mead Vickers
4 -2 Volkswagen Up!  Adam & Eve DDB/
5 (–) Visa  Saatchi & Saatchi/
6 (–) Rimmel 1000
Kisses lipstick
Laird & Partners/
7 (–) Kellogg's Special
K Biscuit Moments
Leo Burnett/Carat 30
8 (–) Cathedral City  Grey London/
Universal McCann
9 (–) Sainsbury's  Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO/
10= (4=) Currys/
PC World
M&C Saatchi/
Walker Media
10= (–) Hellmann's  Ogilvy & Mather/
12 (–) Ladbrokes  SapientNitro/
Walker Media
13 (–) BT  Abbott Mead
14 (19=) Morrisons  DLKW Lowe/MEC 22
15= (–) Barclays  Bartle Bogle
15= (–) Furniture
17= (–) Nestle
17= (–) Finish  Euro RSCG
17= (–) Microsoft
Keith Rivers
20 (13=) Sky  SapientNitro/


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