theScore leans on laughs to launch Bet Mode

Who: theScore Bet, with Diamond for creative and strategy, Radke Film Group for production, (directed by The Director Brothers: Ryan McNeely and Josh Martin), post-production by Saints Editorial, Darling, Alter Ego, and OSO, with Initiative for media and Jigsaw for casting.

What: “Get into Bet Mode,” a new campaign for the sports app and its betting service, which launches with Ontario’s legalization of online betting on April 4.

When & Where: The campaign launched last week and is running on all major media across Ontario: TV, online, out-of-home, and its owned assets.

Why (the background): A whole new consumer category opens for business in Ontario, April 4, and some big brands with deep pockets are launching sportsbook apps and competing to grab as many new customers (aka gamblers) as possible.

BetRivers ads starring Dan O’Toole were impossible to miss during the Olympics; MGM is running ads with Wayne Gretzky (and just signed Connor McDavid); while other big casino/gambling names like FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars and Bet365 are all approved to launch mobile betting apps on April 4. In other words, there’s a lot going on in the space.

Why (the strategy): theScore Bet is from the hugely successful sports scores and news app, theScore—a brand which began as a specialty TV channel in the ’90s, but enjoyed its biggest success from the creation of its app. The company sold its broadcast business to Rogers in 2012 to focus on its digital business—including its 2019 expansion into gaming. Last August, Score Media and Gaming was acquired for $2 billion by Penn National, which acquired the Barstool Sports app in 2020.

theScore hopes to leverage the popularity of its legacy app to connect with sports bettors, by making Bet Mode available to all users.

“The purpose of that integration is to simplify the betting experience and not distract fans from enjoying the game,” said Aubrey Levy, SVP, marketing and content, theScore. “It’s a comprehensive suite of features that streamlines the betting process for fans, allowing them to do everything from see live odds and markets, to build their bet slips.”

“Our view is that a product that strives to help treat you as a sports fan first and bring betting functionality to you, rather than force you to leave the native point of your sports media consumption, will provide a better experience,” he said.

How: Diamond (which won the business earlier this year) worked with acclaimed U.S.-based comedy director duo McNeely and Martin to show how theScore is putting the user experience first. The campaign is anchored by a 2.5 minute long film which shows three friends at a sports bar, preparing to make their bets on the game they’re going to watch. Using theScore app, each of the players uses “Bet Mode” to get assistance from three different characters who magically appear through a life-size, fluorescent representation of the mobile app to help unblock distractions and friction to make better easier.

The three characters are played by familiar actors—Gerry Dee (Mr. Dee and Family Feud host), Rex Lee (from Entourage) and Susie Essman, (Curb Your Enthusiasm)—and each of them help the friends “get into Bet Mode by removing impediments so they can lock in on their bets,” said Jordan Cohen, creative director at Diamond.

Lee, for example, gets rid of one player’s ex-girlfriend who wants to talk while he’s trying to bet, while Essman curses out a large man who’s blocking the friends’ view of the TV. “Rex Lee manages, schedules and facilitates a distraction-free experience,” said Cohen. “Susie Essman is the enforcer, the muscle, standing up for a bettor so he can fully enjoy the game.

“Gerry Dee is called in exclusively to be faded,” explained Cohen. “That’s bet speak for, ‘listen to what they say, then do the opposite.’ If your friend group is into betting, chances are there’s one person who’s going to get faded by everyone else. For us, that’s Gerry.”

The 2.5 minute long film is being cut into shorter versions focusing on the individual characters.

And we quote: “With this launch campaign, our approach isn’t just about coming to market and spending, it’s about how we support what is different about our product with a message that resonates and reinforces our value proposition.” —Aubrey Levy, SVP, marketing and content, theScore

David Brown