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Harry Lang interview with EGR Marketing to discuss the Gamble Aware 'Bet Regret' campaign

EGR Marketing:- How effective do you think the Bet Regret campaign has been?

HL:- The campaign by ad industry stalwarts (and my first employers) M&C Saatchi only launched in February this year so its far too early to see any discernible results in terms of hard data.

Has the campaign’s message had the desired effect?

The tone and messaging of the ads are a dramatic step change from the usual placid and preachy efforts we’ve seen in the past. This suggests that Gamble Aware has a new mandate to fight problem gaming head on and to try and speak to those at risk in a more meaningful way that ultimately has a greater cut through.

These ads really take the fight directly to problem gambling – having racing pundit

Oli Bell ask:- “Dominic, how does it feel to flush your hard earned money straight down the pan?” is certainly a pretty clear shot across the bows of the sports betting industry. Telling at risk punters that they, too, are in effect shitting away their money if they don’t at least pause for thought before placing a bet is pretty impactful.

Do you think GambleAware has learned lessons from its previous TV advertising (when it had an ad banned by the ASA in March 2017)?

After that last debacle you’ve got to assume Gamble Aware CEO Marc Etches had a pretty firm and absolute chat with the marketing team and agency. To get cut through it helps to be close to the edge but I reckon it’s highly unlikely they’ll cross it again.

Critics have openly said they feel the campaign has the potential to increase self-blame. Do you agree or disagree?

It’s a tough question this. Yes, the scenarios reflect real life experiences that likely happen across the UK every night with problem gamblers and those on the path to problems in the future. As such, they might make people self-blame. That said, there’s a thin line between influencing behaviours (as I’d hope this campaign will) and being ignored as bland and irrelevant (as previous campaigns have been). My personal view is that in this instance the potential benefits of a successful campaign outweigh the risks.

What more can be done to address problem gambling through marketing?

I always refer back to the tobacco and alcohol industries that have faced similar issues of commercial objective vs. addictive products in the past. Ultimately, marketing campaigns can be ignored whilst a balanced ‘tripod’ approach of customer education, voluntary proactive responsibility from the whole industry (I.e. Gamstop & self exclusion protocols) and mitigating the ways in which gaming is promoted (stupid bonuses, freebets & avoidance of anything that goes within 500 miles of children) would be a good start.

How do you think operators’ marketing activities will change once the whistle-to-whistle ad ban comes in this summer?

They’ll take the budget from those costly ad breaks and put them into channels that remain legal. That’s all.

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