‘Maximizing consumer engagement’: How DraftKings is using its Super Bowl advertising to differentiate and lift consumer engagement

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Last February, after advertising during the Super Bowl for the first time, sports betting company DraftKings saw its highest acquisition day yet with over a million entries into its Super Bowl pool.

That made the decision to advertise again during the Big Game — despite last year’s low ratings and the price of a 30-second spot increasing by $1 million from $5.5 million to $6.5 million — an easy one, according to its chief marketing officer Stephanie Sherman.

This year, the company is once again using its Super Bowl ad as a way to get potential customers to interact with the brand beyond their TV screens by offering 10,000 people free bets with the chance to be one of five people who win $1 million each.

The 30-second Super Bowl spot, which will air during the first quarter and was made by Vayner Media, will disclose that they can only place bets while the game is going on.

“We want to continue to differentiate ourselves,” said Sherman, of the company’s aim to make its Super Bowl advertising more interactive while also introducing a new brand character, the Goddess of Fortune. “As we look toward the Super Bowl, it’s a moment for us to reintroduce the brand.”

DraftKings is one of a number of brands looking to gamify its Super Bowl advertising to make it more interactive, often via a contest or sweepstakes of sorts. DraftKings sees it as an opportunity to “engage with consumers while they’re watching the game” while also “uniquely delivering on that interaction,” noted Sherman.

It’s unclear how much DraftKings plans to spend on its Super Bowl advertising effort as Sherman declined to share those figures. Per Kantar data, DraftKings spent $164.2 million on advertising during the first nine months of 2020. Those figures exclude the cost of advertising on social media, however, as Kantar does not track that spending.

“To maximize their dollars, brands are maximizing consumer engagement,” said Brendan Gahan, chief social officer and partner at Mekanism, when asked why companies are looking to gamify their Super Bowl advertising. “They’re pushing consumers to engage with, and learn about products, in a manner not often associated with the typical ‘brand building’ efforts of Super Bowl’s past.” 

Gahan continued: “Some brands are going so far as to use their Super Bowl investment as a lead gen tool.” 

The challenge for marketers like DraftKings is whether they will stand out as more and more marketers take this approach to Super Bowl advertising. DraftKings is hoping its effort to reintroduce its brand while also offering the “thrill of laying something on the line” as Sherman said via the chance to win $1 million will do just that.

Whatever the case may be, Super Bowl is “a crucial moment for us,” said Sherman.  

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