Daily fantasy sports site DraftKings uses NFL news to bolster ad campaign
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DraftKings Rolls Out Ads At The ‘Speed of Sports’ And ‘DK Shop’ E-commerce Store

DraftKings new commercials
Last month, DraftKings rolled out its first ad campaigns for the 2017 NFL season. Now, it’s producing new versions of those commercials using current events from the world of football.

DraftKings’ new ad campaigns

DraftKings’ new ads fall under one of two concepts.

The “Dr. Aftkings” series features light-hearted, 30-second spots in which a doctor diagnoses a variety of daily fantasy sports ailments. Players with “Lose-onic Plague” or “Earnings Dysfunction” are instructed to look to DraftKings for the cure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the more-intense “Play” series. These spots range from 30 to 60 seconds and are not at all light-hearted. The long version is more like a mini sports drama, really:

There are at least six ads in the Play series so far, with each spotlighting a different DraftKings feature or format. There’s one for the new Pick’em contests, for example. Another one highlights the DK Live product.

You’re going to be seeing even more of this mysterious, silhouetted running back with dreadlocks, too. DraftKings is expanding the Play campaign at the “Speed of Sports,” as the company puts it.

Dynamic ads can be updated weekly

Although it’s not spending to bombard the airwaves with commercials, DraftKings’ approach in 2017 seems to be more clever-handed.

The new “Speed of Sports” spots are 15-second ads that are templated from the Play series. They’re short, and they carry just a single marketing message. Designed to be produced quickly, DraftKings has already released two of them following Week 1.

Rookie running back Kareem Hunt exploded on Thursday Night Football, and that sort of performance hits a key DFS selling point. Hunt was overlooked in some seasonlong fantasy leagues, but there’s no waiver wire in DFS. If you want him next week, you can have him.

That idea is already incorporated into a new ad:

And then there’s the case of David Johnson. Arguably the top-ranked overall fantasy player entering the season, Johnson went down with a serious injury during Week 1. It’s bad news for everyone, but it hits another sweet spot in DFS marketing:

Any sharp player with the first or second pick in their seasonlong drafts has David Johnson. Now they’re in a bind, and DraftKings is quick to remind them that injuries don’t present the same long-term problem in DFS.

A less invasive approach

This advertising strategy serves a couple purposes for DraftKings.

First, the templated style likely reduces production costs and turnaround time in a significant way. They’re simple and mostly text-based, so they can be easily updated as news breaks that falls into their marketing strategy.

There’s also a sort of consumer fatigue that comes from being beaten over the head with one advertising message. During the big push of 2015-2016, there was a shipload of complaints about the frequency and repetition of a small set of commercials. That repetition was by design, and it was probably an effective tactic, but it’s time to try a modified approach.

This shift toward shorter, more dynamic ads might help mitigate some of that fatigue and frustration from consumers.

Refocused messaging

The “Speed of Sports” series also seems to underscore a continuing trend in DraftKings’ messaging.

For years, its advertising campaigns have centered around enormous prize pools. Now, though, DraftKings is starting give a bit more attention to some of the other selling points.

Although it’s taking a couple different approaches at once, one specific piece of messaging remains consistent across the board.

The word “Play” appears visually in each one of the new ads. It’s the name of one whole advertising campaign, but the Dr. Aftkings spots all feature the words “Play Free,” too. Free contests have been a point of particular emphasis lately, as evidenced with the recent “Billion Dollar Lineup” promotion.

There’s also a recurring focus on DFS users’ ability to set a new lineup each week. That concept is pretty much the key differentiator between seasonlong and daily fantasy sports, and it’s starting to feature heavily in the messaging once again.

DraftKings’ Senior Vice President for Brand & Creative, Don Lane, pinpointed exactly that with the new ads:

We built this campaign to connect with fans at the speed of sports with real time, relevant marketing. The goal is to show season-long fantasy players how DraftKings daily fantasy allows them to set a fresh lineup every week. Just another way we bring them closer to the games they love.

DraftKings unveils new ‘DK Shop’

Users and fans can help DraftKings out by doing some of the marketing legwork themselves, too. The new “DK Shop” launched today, with custom gear and branded apparel available for purchase.

The shop contains dozens of shirts, including the familiar crowned-D logo options. There is also a selection of graphical, meme-based designs that might appeal to more pure football fans, too. If you’ve ever wanted a “Hyde Yo’ Kids, Hyde Yo’ Wife” or “That’s What Cheesehead” shirt…

The DK Shop also sells fantasy trophies and championship belts to use in your league, plus branded tailgating supplies. They’re not cheap. Some of the trophies run close to $300.

Reactions to some of the new merchandise have been mixed so far.

Unlike previous versions of the DraftKings’ store, frequent player points cannot yet be used to purchase items in the DK Shop.

Are you ridin’ with Marshawn Lynch?

Speaking of mysterious running backs with dreadlocks, the DK Shop also features a significant collaboration with Marshawn Lynch. The enigmatic all-pro has his own line of limited edition T-shirts and hoodies within the shop, ranging in price from $35-60.

“This is Beast Mode and DraftKings,” Lynch says in the promo video. “The whole town ridin’ with us. Are you?”

Information surrounding the launch seems to indicate that more collaborations and limited edition lines are in the works, too.

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Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a freelance reporter and writer primarily covering the DFS industry. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.