This year, PokerStars was acquired by Flutter, absorbed into one of the world’s largest real money gaming companies. The industry’s most successful poker operator is just a small part of a monolithic gambling company.
This is not entirely new. Since The Stars Group acquired Sky Betting and Gaming in early 2018, PokerStars has only been a cog in a much bigger wheel. The division continued with the launch of FOX Bet, a new brand leader in sports betting and games in the United States.
Under Flutter, dilution continued. PokerStars is now part of a portfolio from more than a dozen major brands, with Paddy Power, a mainstay of retailing in the UK and Ireland; Betfair, the world leader in online sports exchanges; and FanDuel, the giant of fantasy sports and now sports betting. There are also a pair of Australian companies; Ajarabet in Georgia; American Horse Racing Company TVG and the global media group Oddschecker.
As the world’s largest destination for online poker, PokerStars still stands out and occupies a clear position within this larger business. But for its highly successful casino vertical and smaller BetStars bookmaker, its contribution was less clear: how does it fit into Flutter’s existing products?
The answer to this was a new global branding. Gone is the idea of a main poker brand with sports and casinos alongside it. Instead, PokerStars would act like the master brand, representing a place housing poker, sports and the casino under one name.
The name BetStars has been removed; PokerStars Sports was born. The operator is said to be looking to market the trio together, using its dominant position in online poker to promote its service as a one-stop destination for real money online entertainment.
This quickly led to his first global marketing campaign, I’m In, making its debut in August. It was the first of its kind for the operator, promoting PokerStars as a one-stop destination for sports, casinos and poker. Rather than promoting individual products, I’m In is more like lifestyle marketing, showcasing PokerStars as a destination.
This was followed by the operator’s first A-list partnership in many years: last week Neymar Jr has joined PokerStars. One of the world’s most recognizable and influential sports stars, the Brazilian is expected to lead the ad campaign in 2021.
Fill in a interview trilogy shine a light on internal functioning PokerStars marketing and player acquisition efforts, PRO spoke with Martin Nieri, Global Creative Director, to find out more about this brand revamp, which has been in the works for two years.