A Bold Brand Gesture

In an Australian racing first, leading online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has declared the 2010 Cox Plate (to be run 23/10/2010) a one horse race and has paid out all bets totaling more than $250,000 on the Bart Cummings trained – So You Think. The unprecedented move sees punters collect their winnings an incredible five days before the world’s greatest Weight-for-Age race is run.  Sportsbet.com.au CEO Matt Tripp said he regarded So You Think as a certainty.
 However, given that most people on this planet think there are really very few certainties in life, there is always a chance it won’t win, even if that is only the slimmest of possibilities, it is still a possibility – so why pay?

Sportsbet are paying simply because Matt and his team are better brand builders than their competitors. They have an appetite for big bold gestures that stand out, because they are brilliantly counter intuitive. It is not the first time they have paid out before an event has been completed. They did it earlier in the year with Tiger Woods after the second round in the Australian Open (he won!), and with the Tigers in Aussie Rules, where they paid out $150,000 to punters, after about round 4 of a 22 round competition, who backed them to be wooden spooners (to come last).

So what is the payback for Sportsbet? The answer is simple. It is a superb bold gesture that not only generates huge amounts of publicity, it also acknowledges the ‘smart’ punter, or as Sportsbet calls them, members. If one was to sit down and tally up the media coverage they have gained, the brand is way ahead. It would have generated over 5 times what it has paid out in free media coverage. But importantly for the brand it is more than just media coverage, it is positioning the brand as innovative, bold and confident. It is saying we are the leader in a crowded market.

Matt Tripp and his team have shown they can identify a winner, and in my own humble way I share that skill. As a ‘virtual teenager’, some 34 years ago on Cox Plate day in Melbourne I picked an absolute winner – my wife Sally. It was undoubtedly my greatest big bold personal brand gesture.

If you are managing a brand, stop and think, what has been the boldest gesture you have introduced over the past year. Perhaps its time for some counter intuitive thinking, lets not leave it all up to Matt Tripp.

Peter Singline
Brand Scientist


  1. I was thinking that Sports bet had gone counter-intuitive with their bold gesture – and then I read about Sal agreeing to marry you Pete and realized there are big bold gestures that don’t seem to make sense, and then there are really big bold gestures that don’t seem to make sense.

  2. What I love most about this brand gesture from SportsBet is how it seems to make no sense on any level. Then as you uncover the layers of response and brand association and you realize the extent to which it builds the SportsBet brand through PR, media coverage, and peer-to-peer conversation and it all begins to make good – no brilliant – sense. In a market (on-line wagering) where there is such little differentiation in experience and product between competing brands, this is a genuine masterstroke of brand strategy by design for SportsBet.

  3. What an incredibly bold brand gesture that is generating massive amounts of publicity! The ROI is quite incredible Pete as you note, “it would have generated over 5 times what it has paid out in free media coverage” I think possibly even more. What an innovative strategy!

  4. It’s a great example of making brand lemonade from business lemons. They’re going to take a bath with the favourite coming home, no matter what they do, so they write it off and by tuning it on it’s head, get a strategic brand advantage.

    It’s all about standing out in your market (or a crowd, eh Pete) wether it’s corporate branding or personal grooming being able to differentiate yourself is key to success and survival.

    Congratulations Pete & Sally

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