Bodog recently launched in Brazil, kicking off in style – and augmenting its media campaign – by sponsoring Brazil’s largest poker club, The H2, to give “actual presence on the ground”.
Explaining the move further, Pownall said: “We don’t want Bodog to be remote from its Brazilian customers, so we wanted to have a place where players can come a get the real Bodog experience; the H2 is the perfect fit. We are currently building the Bodog Lounge and over the Summer we’ll start hosting some fun tournaments with all the bells and whistles that we are famous for; models, celebrities, drinks and, of course, a party.
“We did some extensive research about which regions we should look at expanding into and the two at the top of the pile were LatAm and India. Europe is beyond saturated and the UK positively inundated (hence the merger frenzy going on now). LatAm has a number of positive attributes beyond the very basics of sheer numbers, namely, an increasing internet penetration coupled with better eComm options (a previous sticking point in the region).
“It is interesting to note that Bitcoin is very strong in the region due to volatile local currencies and we see ourselves at the forefront of the industry’s embracing of the cryptocurrency. It’s an area we see as huge for the online gaming industry and we have invested heavily in creating generic awareness beyond gaming, even helping to fund a video* that purposefully has no selling point at all outside of Bitcoin itself in the hope that people will feel more comfortable sharing it. With Governments starting to recognise the currency (Japan, Russia, Australia, Antigua, Malta and India) this, we think, will be hugely important in the region and in the industry as a whole in years to come.
“Added to those ‘top level basics’ there is a huge interest in sport, both soccer and the US sports too, but as a result we needed to enter the market with a USP, and poker is a vertical where few could argue we’ve got a genuinely unique product offering. We also strongly believe we are the fairest place to play poker online anywhere in the world. Our anonymous tables make it far harder for ‘sharks’ to target ‘fish’ and therefore the leisure experience at our tables is better and this has shown in our figures over the last five years.
“We’ve been into other regions in the past, notably Asia, and made a lot of mistakes early on; in essence, trying to run before we could walk, and those lessons have been valuable for LatAm. As a result, we have started – from a marketing perspective – only in Mexico and Brazil (just on market size) and while available to other countries in the region we’d like to get good at the bigger markets before specialising elsewhere.
“Also you need to have not only local partners (we sponsor the Corinthian Steamrollers) but also an ‘on the ground presence’, hence the sponsorship of the H2 poker club in Sao Paulo. However trusted a brand is, people like to be able to see it, and see that you are not just a remote operator with a local veneer.
“As for the future? We need to gain brand trust first, then we’ll start doing what we do best – i.e offering props on markets that nobody else has done before and disrupting verticals that have sat unchanged for too long. It is surprising that betting companies outside the UK are not seing the benefit of what used to be termed ‘novelty’ markets but are now a large part of growing the betting audience. These markets are, of course, great PR stories but have grown, in mature markets, to become good acquisition tools too and there seems no reason not to replicate this concept in LatAm.”
*See the Bitcoin video at https://youtu.be/OjTqdkusyJw