Can Rocky “future-proof” Ladbrokes advertising?

Advertising betting these days is like booze, or tobacco back in the day. You need to stay one step ahead of the regulators, often by making it appear that you’re advertising something else.

Ladbroke Coral’s line is ‘Let’s Play together,’ part of a wheeze to position the betting firm as an entertainment product (its big rival is Flutter Entertainment, a combination of Betfair and Paddy Power.)

Rules are belatedly being tightened, recognised by Jon Forsyth of creative agency Neverland, who says Ladbrokes wanted to “future proof communications. The rest of the market…haven’t thought about the regulations coming down the line. They’ve used borrowed interest from existing players or celebrities and that’s led them into a bit of a tricky situation.

“I had a very strong sense of responsibility not to appeal to children and to also reflect the brand’s movement to become a broader entertainment brand. We don’t want to have borrowed interest from current celebrities or those that might appeal to children, it’s not the strategy we wanted to take on.”

So we have a remastered Rocky with a cast of (new) thousands but with betting sports like horse and motor racing nosing onto the scene.

Neverland has got off to a flying start, in large part due to its work for Ladbrokes. You may be uneasy about some of the supposed logic (then again we still praise some tobacco ads of yore) but it certainly handles Ladbrokes with panache.

Media is by the7stars, a good opportunity for an enterprising indie agency to show its creds with a big budget.

Will it survive betting’s critics? Labrokes says it’s due to run for a year.

MAA creative scale: 7.5.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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