fbpx peterjones, Author at B-Engaged
  • Rezzil, the world’s leading athlete development platform, have appointed B-Engaged as its lead creative and marketing agency.

    B-Engaged, who were shortlisted for Sport Industry’s Young Agency of the Year 2021, will be responsible for amplifying the brand on social media, while delivering content designed to reach and engage new audiences.
    They follow the likes of Guild, EA Sports and Call of Duty in the agencies ever-growing esports and gaming portfolio.

    They follow the likes of Guild, EA Sports and Call of Duty in the agencies ever-growing esports and gaming portfolio. 

    The VR sports platform has received recent investment from Thierry Henry, Gary Neville, Vincent Kompany and Michail Antonio before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg highlighted them in his recent keynote speech at FBConnect.

    The agency aims to heighten the brand of ‘Player 22’, Rezzil’s home-consumer product ahead of an important festive period.

    “We’re incredibly proud to be working with Rezzil. Andy and his team have built an amazing product and one that we see as the future of athletic training. It’s a hugely exciting time for the company with the recent investment and the launch of Player 22, their home-based consumer offering. Much like Rezzil, we look forward to pushing the boundaries in the digital and social world to make sure we continue to give first in class service as part of our esports offering.”

    Ehsen Shah, CEO of B-Engaged

    ““We are so pleased to have B-Engaged on board as our complete marketing agency. The teams at both B-Engaged and HIFEN fully understand the significance of the Rezzil brand and our vision for PLAYER22. We are incredibly excited by the work they have produced so far and look forward to some of the campaigns due to launch in the near future.”

    Andy Etches, Co-Founder of Rezzil
  • Football influences millions across the globe, from children to adults. It has a role to play in society to educate and inspire. Whether that is raising awareness for issues in today’s world, or leading from the front in order to better lives.

    Decades ago, we were blessed with some iconic football sponsorships. JVC/SEGA x Arsenal, Dr Martens x West Ham, Pizza Hut x Fulham, Candy x Liverpool, Brother x Manchester City – the list goes on.

    Now the majority of what we see on the shirts of clubs across Europe are gambling brands. But why have we not spoken of the issue around these sponsorships until recently? Since the birth of B-Engaged we have held our position on not working with any gambling sponsor, we strongly believe they have no place in football.

    Football influences millions across the globe, from children to adults. It has a role to play in society to educate and inspire. Whether that is raising awareness for issues in today’s world or leading from the front in change to better lives.

    This blog post will provide some insight into why we think this way.

    This season (2020/21) 8 of the 20 front of shirt sponsors in the Premier League (PL) are gambling companies, with almost all Premier League teams having at least 1 gambling sponsor and some having multiple deals split into regional sponsors.

    Below is a table of the PL clubs and gambling sponsors, only Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Sheffield United do not showcase a gambling sponsor on their website on the day of writing this blog.

    One of the exceptions, Sheffield United, do not showcase a gambling sponsor on their website. This is due to their owners from Saudi Arabia implementing an internal ban on their commercial team agreeing on any sponsorships with gambling brands.

    You’ll often find when a football clubs’ sponsorship with a gambling company is coming to an end, they enter the market pitching out their IP with a strong position to try and find a new sponsor within a different industry. Whether this is due to moral / ethical values, or rather they are foreseeing regulatory changes forcing them to diversify their partnerships model, is yet to be seen.

    So why do they continue with gambling brands you might ask…
    Well, it’s all about the cash!

    A reported £70m worth of sponsorship fees are paid by bookmakers to PL teams. In the PL this season West Ham (Betway £10m), Wolves (ManBetX £8m), Burnley (LoveBet £7.5m), Southampton (Sportsbet.io £4m), Leeds (SBOTOP £6m), Crystal Palace (W88 £6.5m), Newcastle (Fun88 £6.5m) and Fulham (BetVictor £3m) all promote gambling brands on their front of shirt, whilst Aston Villa (LT) and West Brom (12Bet) home them as their sleeve sponsor to 10’s of millions across the globe.

    The problem dives deeper within the EFL, with two-thirds of the Championship clubs showcasing a betting sponsor on their front of shirt and over £40m a season paid in sponsorship fees by gambling companies to EFL clubs.

    During a DCMS committee, Rick Parry the EFL chairman told MPs that it would be ‘potentially catastrophic’ if a ban on gambling sponsors in football were imposed.

    Clubs have had years to plan for these changes in regulations. Similar to the tobacco industry’s marketing communications ban back in 2002. This is not an overnight decision.

    Why is this a problem?

    So far, I’ve highlighted the front of shirt exposure, but this is only a starting point. In the past 2-years we’ve seen betting sponsors take their integration level with clubs beyond the bowl of the stadium, where you would traditionally see them. They have firmly placed themselves within the club’s digital ecosystem, which drives direct call to actions for any user. Ultimately at this point is where the catastrophic problems arise.

    Here is a tweet from Arsenal before their FA Cup 4th round tie vs Southampton.

    Why’s this an issue? I’ll break it down:

    1. The caption. Providing Opta style statistics to entice fans into betting on over 2.5 goals. Playing on the fans devoted love and optimism for their club backed with stats from the last 10 games.
    2. Direct CTA to place a bet via Twitter cards feature, which showcases “SUPER BOOST” promotion
    3. No 18+ restrictions, or clear warning of the implications in caption, but put in very small font in the bottom right corner
    4. Use of players which to some may show endorsement from them towards the odds, company or the activity of gambling.

    Another example below is Tottenham Hotspur and their integration of sponsor William Hill within their team line-up post. You can see here Spurs do add in the 18+ communications directly next to a link where fans can place a bet in seconds.

    A review driven by the government presented results where an estimated 430,000 people in Britain are deemed to be problem gamblers, and customers of gambling companies have seen accumulated losses of £14.4 billion per year in 2019.

    What can football do to change?

    Football influences millions across the globe, from children to adults. It has a role to play in society to educate and inspire. Whether that is raising awareness for issues in today’s world, or leading from the front in order to better lives.

    Clubs need to take a look at their commercial strategy and diversify. But first they need to change their philosophy and way of thinking towards sponsorships. That’s a bold statement to make for someone who hasn’t worked at a club, however we work with a number of companies which fit this diverse model and we’ve first-hand seen the mentality and philosophy of a number of clubs across Europe.

    The first marker some clubs lay down when discussing a sponsorship with them is their fees structure. In the majority of cases these structures are built off of previous sponsorship agreements they have put in place, and in some of those cases they’re largely referenced back to gambling sponsors. This is where the mentality needs to change.

    First step needs to be clubs treating every brand as a partner rather than a sponsor (notice that I have referred to agreements between clubs and brands as ‘sponsorship’ instead of ‘partnership’) – I’ll save this topic for another blog.

    Clubs need to see the effect a partner can have on their fanbase, how can they align and provide value. There have been some exceptional examples of this in recent years:

    • Liverpool partnership with Nivea & Quorn
    • Stevenage and Burger King/Burger Queen
    • QPR and FootballNet
    • Arsenal and Octopus Energy
    • Everton and Cazoo
    • Manchester City and Xylem
    • Watford and Football Manager

    A model shift can be through reducing entry level fees to broaden the options for non-gambling industries, whilst increasing the partner categories to offset the loss of income from a betting sponsor. Clubs have recently opened the option to short-term agreements to soften the COVID-19 impact, however more needs to be done.

    Players must to be vocal about the use of their imagery, name etc. during these promotions. Two of our athlete clients have done exactly this and informed their club they do not wish to be associated with any gambling sponsor.

    The problem isn’t just with fans of the game either, players themselves can also be subjected to the pitfalls of gambling brands operating in the sport. B-Engaged client Steven Caulker is currently campaigning for these companies to be eradicated from football, whilst also calling for better support structures to be put in place for those that need it.

    Steven said: “Gambling is a huge problem in society today. There is no getting away from that. A staggering statistic amongst some gambling firms is that 83% of their profits are coming from just 2% of their clients. Compulsive gambling in my opinion is an illness. I would like to see football clubs acknowledge this and actively seek change in the way they promote these firms. I’m not naive enough to think this single handedly will solve the deeper issue, but it will certainly go a long way in inspiring change.”

    All in all there is a lot that needs to change within football, and fundamentally they all boil down to a change of approach towards the integration of brands within sport. We as people working in this industry have a duty of care and an opportunity to help millions across the world. We need to pull together and help drive a change.