- BetMGM has signed NFL legend Marshawn Lynch as a brand ambassador.
- Lynch was an integral part of the Seattle Seahawks win in Super Bowl XLVIII.
- Lynch joins superstars such as Wayne Gretzky and Barry Sanders on BetMGM’s roster of brand ambassadors.
When it comes to brand marketing and promotion in the nascent US sports betting industry everyone appears to be ‘making things up as they go along’. One company will try something and others soon copy. Before long it becomes de rigueur for any serious sportsbook despite the absence of any demonstrable correlation with revenue or profits. One such concept is the ‘brand ambassador’–casinos and sportsbooks hiring retired athletes and other celebrities for nebulously defined ‘promotional duties’. This strategy is nothing new and has been employed by land based casinos in Las Vegas and elsewhere since the mid 20th Century. Boxing legend Joe Louis was famously a ‘casino greeter’ at Caesars Palace in his retirement–a gig set up by casino executive Ash Resnick to help the ‘Brown Bomber’ with his financial troubles.
They may not have the same financial struggles post retirement as Louis but there’s now a new generation of ‘greeters’ for the digital era. The new term for this job is ‘brand ambassador’ and none of the entrants into the US sports betting industry has done as much in this regard as BetMGM. They’ve signed a laundry list of high profile celebrities to promote their brand including Hollywood superstar Jamie Fox–you’ll see him front and center on most of BetMGM’s marketing:
Most ‘brand ambassadors’ aren’t Hollywood A-Listers such as Fox–most are retired athletes. The tie in between a sports icon and BetMGM is a natural, at least on paper. It helps legitimize the brand in a new market by giving it a friendly, respected face. It gives BetMGM a ‘go to’ celebrity to attend sportsbook openings and other events. Plus it’s a nice gig for an athlete in retirement. Sometimes a ‘brand ambassador’ is chosen for a specific market–usually one that BetMGM is entering for the first time. Case in point–Michigan, which launched online sports betting earlier this year. BetMGM quickly signed former University of Michigan and NBA basketball star Jalen Rose along with former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders as brand ambassadors. Other brand ambassadors have sufficient star power as to work in any market as well as on a national level. One such transcendent superstar would be Wayne Gretzky, arguably the greatest hockey player ever to lace up a pair of skates. Gretzky is a legend worldwide though he’ll be particularly valuable to BetMGM as they look to enter the soon-to-open sports betting market in Canada.
You can put football legend Marshawn Lynch in that category. Lynch played 12 years in the NFL with stints in Buffalo, Seattle and Oakland and was a key component of the Seahawks’ franchise first Super Bowl win. Lynch was (in)famous during his career for not talking to the media–ironic since he’s an extremely charismatic, intelligent and quick witted individual. He’s got a great sense of humor, natural comedic timing and a penchant for coming up with perfect ‘one liners’ on the fly. He’s done some acting here and there and has recently entered the legal cannabis industry with his brand Dodi Blunts. He’s now a BetMGM ambassador:
BetMGM, a leading sports betting and digital gaming company, announced today the signing of former National Football League (NFL) running back Marshawn Lynch as a brand ambassador. The Super Bowl champion will be featured in BetMGM’s upcoming marketing campaigns, promotions and fan events.
Matt Prevost, Chief Revenue Officer at BetMGM, gave this assessment of Lynch:
“Lynch is both an incredible athlete and larger-than-life personality. The impact he has made on the game of football, coupled with his status as an electric superstar, makes him a tremendous addition to the BetMGM team.”
Prevost’s observation is evident in this quote from Lynch–definitely not the typical press release drivel:
“Being part of the BetMGM family is dope and an honor. They’re the leaders in online gaming so I’m excited to learn about the industry from the best and find ways where I can have an impact. Plus, with ambassadors like Barry, Gretzky and Jalen, I think da’ kid is in good company, ya know what I mean?”
At this point, the return on investment of many marketing tactics leveraged in the US sports betting market is unclear. I’ve bet for decades at countless sports books and have never factored in ‘brand ambassadors’ or ‘media partners’ in my decision where to play. To the extent that such partnerships can attract interest and get new clients in the door logic suggests that once they’re on board it’s all about the relationship with the sportsbook itself. Lynch could be an exception–if they can come up with the right marketing and promotional vehicles for ‘Beast Mode’ he could become a serious asset and a public face of the company in much the same way that William Shatner is forever identified with travel website Priceline.