Total Strategy is about looking at the entire business problem, not just the brief in front of us. It’s about looking at communication in the very broadest sense, and understanding how creativity can change the way a brand thinks about its marketing at a very fundamental level; of course including media, but not being limited to or, critically, defined by it.
What follows is an example of this in action with one of our largest, and ‘strategy only’ clients, Sky Bet. To clarify our role – we operate as the galvanising lynchpin across all POE communications. We work directly with the creative agency (Who Wot Why), Mediacom and all of the SkyBet’s internal teams (PR, digital performance, content, product development, CRM etc) to define and lead a neutral, centralised communications approach that not only defines what the business says but also how it behaves.
The strongest example of this is our approach to responsible gambling:
The gambling sector is ruthlessly competitive. Every business is obsessed with short-termism and driving their ‘share of wallet’ around live sport and the Saturday afternoon action. Free bets, price boosts, cash out, money back offers are all part of the tactical war chest which are used to drive immediate returns.
In June 2017 Sky Bet were no different. The brief we received to that was intended to grow the entire business was built around the predictable parameters: extract short-term value from the market by pushing offers and shout as loud as we can via paid media to drive awareness gain.
Our view was that their brief was fundamentally wrong.
Awareness was already at 94%. Fighting to gain an extra percentage point or two would be shockingly expensive and probably futile: at best, a pyrrhic victory. Pushing short-term offers would simply drag us into an ‘us too’ fight: the competition was starting to catch up with our technology leadership and our ‘innovation in product’ scores were starting to ebb.
As the number 1 bookmaker, new, significant and sustainable growth wasn’t going to come from doing what every other bookmaker was doing. We needed to take a position of leadership in the market and understand what would truly drive long-term consideration for the Sky Bet brand amongst light and non-users, rather than simply just push slightly incremental short-term value amongst existing loyal customers.
People knew us. People had us already installed on their phone in fact. People liked using us. But they also liked using other betting brands. The challenge was clear: we had to drive distinctiveness for the brand that would truly set us apart.
To find the answer, we dug into the heart of the brand. We spoke to customers around the country. We spent time with the founders of the business, the key stakeholders, and the people that make the business tick day to day (as we spend a day or two in week in Leeds every single week embedded in Sky Bet’s offices this is a relatively simple task – we know a lot of people!). We had to find an authentic, compelling truth about Sky Bet that matched with a tension in the market – something that other bookies simply couldn’t say or do credibly – which would really resonate with the betting public.
And the answer was as surprising as it was powerful.
We wanted to ask people to bet less, not more.