With the football season in full swing, well, minus fans and atmosphere and only one game in, men aged 18 and 34 are apparently desperate to bet on anything that moves on the pitch. From the first yellow card in the Estonia League’s Piraaja vs Poseidon, to the second assist during the Isthmian League’s Bishops Stortford v Bognor Regis, the possibilities are endless it seems.
Sadly, this is no joke as problem gambling is still rife in the UK, with an estimated 340,000 betting addicts and millions of others wasting hundreds of millions of pounds a year putting wagers on impossible outcomes.
Entering the fray is the latest initiative by independent charity GambleAware and The Safer Gambling Board, both funded by the gambling industry, whose mission is to keep people safe from gambling harms.
Together with M&C Saatchi, the organisations are launching the next phase of the Bet Regret national safer gambling campaign, aimed at encouraging people to pause and reconsider before they place a stake they may regret.
Featuring TV, radio and digital activity, the campaign is based around the concept of “tapping-out for time out” and encouraging punters to pause before making an impulsive bet.
The TV spots feature “youngish” men who are apparently about to place ill-considered wagers – one standing in a barren garden while his dog takes a leak, the other propping up the bar in a boozer – when they are spotted by a giant bearded man, who just so happens to be lurking in the background.
Played by amateur wrestler Adam Kirby, the man jumps into action, quite literally, pinning the men down in a “Half Nelson” (you see, we used to watch Saturday afternoon wrestling on ITV back in the day so we know what we are talking about). Kirby then grapples the men into submission, until they agree to “tap out” of their betting apps, saving them from “Bet Regret”.
The strategy is based on research by Ipsos Mori, which revealed the depressing fact that, following the return of football in June after a three-month Covid shutdown, over a quarter (27%) of respondents were betting more than before lockdown, while more than three-fifths (62%) had gambled on football online in the previous month.
GambleAware also took into account a study by the Football Supporters Association, which discovered that over four-fifths (83%) of fans were more likely to gamble on a game they are watching at home than if they were there in person, with three-quarters (73%) saying it is easier to place a bet when at home.
Professor Sian Griffiths, chair of the safer gambling campaign board and GambleAware Trustee, said: “The first year of the Bet Regret campaign had a positive impact on our target audience. We are looking to build on that success by influencing behaviour change through encouraging sports bettors to tap out of their gambling app and take a moment to reflect before placing a risky, impulsive bet. This new campaign is designed to help fans steer clear of Bet Regret and reduce potential gambling harms.”
M&C Saatchi deputy executive creative director Matt Lee added: “How can we encourage people to save themselves from those bets they’ll regret? Obviously, we enlisted the help of someone who knows a thing or two about tapping out. A man-mountain wrestler in a singlet with a weird beard. Whether in the pub or at home, he’ll be not very gently reminding bettors to not make mindless bets, and to ignore the league form of Dynamo Notaclue.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Well, thank goodness, we are not in the target market, unless an annual flutter on the Grand National counts, but that does not mean we are blind to the problem, which, to be fair, is just as much a marketing industry issue as it is a gambling industry one.
After all, with most commercial TV channels spewing out ads for online casinos and betting apps every night after 9pm, it is easy to see how people get hooked and anything that tackles this issue has got to be welcome.
Whether it is enough is another matter, but it has got to be better than nowt.
Decision Marketing Adometer: An “odds defying” 7¾ out of 10