How does Dabble make sports betting a social experience not to be missed?
The male-dominated world of hardcore sports betting gets a muse unlike any before to inspire them in their punting experience. He’s nerdy, clumsy and has an eclectic taste in things. Meet Roger the Real Human who has garnered quite a fan base on Dabble, the first betting app created to allow customers to copy bets, exchange banter and follow the pros.
When DDB Group Melbourne launched the campaign with Roger as the hero, it was a bold and ingenious demonstration of left-field creative strategy to cut through the “masculine clichés and alpha-male tropes”, says head of planning Matt Pearce. “Our approach aimed to crumble some of those walls down and cater to a younger, more social and casual audience.”
He adds that the target customers for Dabble are motivated by social experiences. “Online betting can be quite an isolating or lonely experience, so they love the idea of being connected to friends, pros and other like-minded people. While punters are primarily motivated by the excitement of the punt, the social experience makes them feel like they are also a part of something bigger.”
Dabble’s brand promise taps right into that with its market-leading features. “It integrates social functionality, similar to what’s on Twitter and WhatsApp but in the context of betting, so punters can share their experiences. As more content functionality gets added, our customers will get to engage in content while betting. And it offers a better experience for casual, rather than hardcore, sports and gambling enthusiasts,” says David Galbally, Dabble’s GM of brand and consumer marketing.
The app offers a novel experience for punters, being the first to offer such a combination of features, and Dabble is leading the way, backed by research that shows 67% of punters would give it a go. Additionally, the fact that the horse and sports betting market in Australia is worth $6.4 billion in 2022, and has grown 4.8% per year between 2017 and 2022 will give Dabble even greater traction.
LBB gains more insights from David, Matt and creative director James Cowie.
LBB> What were the key messages and goals set out in the brief?
Matt> Dabble is a challenger to traditional betting apps. Unlike its peers, it offers an immersive, socialised betting experience with a highly engaged community. Punters follow and copy bets from one another and engage in banter with other punters and their mates.
In the crowded landscape of sports betting, we needed to create a campaign that leaned into the strengths of our platform in a way that would also get our specific customer set to give Dabble a try.
LBB> What issues did the client want to address?
David> There isn’t much innovation in the betting industry. What little there is tends to be led by few. Dabble has unique product offerings and so the challenge was to create a campaign that highlighted those differences. There’s a crowded mix of more established competitors with far higher spends, so it was important to create a campaign that could cut through the noise.
LBB> How did the idea for Roger come about and what was the client’s reaction to it?
James> Roger was brought into the world to dramatise the social nature of Dabble’s sports betting platform, specifically its ‘Copy Bet’ functionality. Very quickly, our partners at Dabble saw that Roger could function as a walking, talking manifestation of some of the key parts of their platform in a memorable way.
LBB> How was his persona developed and the rationale for it?
James> Much of Roger’s personality reflects aspects of the Dabble platform itself. Roger’s all-consuming desire to be human is born from the ‘Copy Bet’ feature – by copying real humans, Roger can almost convince himself that he’s becoming like them.
Dabble is also a very social app experience – there’s a lot of chat and banter – and so Roger is constantly trying to become more popular to elicit more likes, more hearts, more social interaction from other humans. Roger knows that humans are social beings, so he is constantly putting himself out there for affirmation.
But we always liked the idea that Roger’s cultural programming is out of date. He is acutely aware that cool things in culture exist, it’s just that his idea of what those things are is tragically off the mark. Right now, for example, he’s a huge fan of floss dancing.
LBB> How has he been engaging consumers on the Dabble app and what’s the response to Roger so far?
David> The fun thing about Roger is that he lives on the app and contributes to the in-app experience, which is very important for us.
Customers love Roger. He was quickly adopted as a favourite account. Our core group of influencer profiles on the account immediately took a liking to him. They mimicked his way of communicating and rallied for him to get bonus and promotional opportunities.
LBB> Roger is depicted as a product of the “ultimate tragedy of his existence” by James Cowie. How does this lead actor play into the genre and plot development of the TVC?
James> In the very first line of our TVC, Roger says, “I’ve always dreamed of being a real human person.” So right from the beginning, there comes a very clear understanding that Roger is doomed to fail. Not only is it obvious that he will never be a real human person, but his attempts to assimilate or even be a proximate copy of the people he follows always falls short. It’s this doomed ambition, together with an undiluted enthusiasm to keep on repeating that failure, that gives Roger his comic potential.
And so, in the TVC, his story plays out as it always does. Roger tries and fails to grasp real humanity. And that makes him funny and his message more memorable.
We were also very deliberate in creating a different type of comedy and tone than what tends to appear in the category. A lot of Dabble’s peers go for a kind of comedy that is centred on a distinctly male Australian sports fan. Dabble is building a brand that is modern and relevant today to appeal to a younger generation, so we wanted to create a tone that was less targeted at the classically male sensibilities that you find in most sports betting ads. And giving Roger an underdog streak was part of that.
LBB> Elaborate on the significance of the TVC narrative and how it was directed to elicit a response to the ‘quirky humour’ and unusual scenes?
James> Once we had formed Roger’s character, the scenes didn’t seem unusual to us. Of course, Roger would want to live in a house, have a bath, try on clothes, try to get a tan to make himself more popular on the Dabble app. That’s all in his wiring.
But unfortunately for him, reality always falls short of his ambition. So, in every scene, we carefully added little details that speak to the gap in his understanding of what real humans do – a welcome mat instead of a bathmat, circuit boards on the hills hoist instead of clothes, a floor lamp placed upside down in the living room. All these little details felt to us like we were just filling out the reality of his existence.
And so, Roger’s failed attempt at humanity is always there in what we’re seeing. Just as it is in Roger’s dialogue, filled with little robotic malapropisms. And in the sound of his autotuned voice, not to mention his constant habit of accidentally smashing things because he’s five times heavier than a real person.
As for the script, there’s a lot of words in it, so every line and scene was carefully timed, crafted and choreographed. As a puppet, Roger was incredibly heavy and he had quite a specific range of movement, so a lot of the blocking was done in consultation with our very talented puppeteer. And a lot of the camera choices were designed to keep things simple and focused on our subject.
LBB> What was the brief to director Jesse James McElroy and his creative vision for filming it?
James> Our brief with Jesse was to push the script as much as possible, but in a way that felt right for Roger’s character. Jesse instantly understood what we were going for and really pushed things forward to serve the comedy. He completely understood the counterpoint that gives Roger his comedic potential and how making him a bit of an underdog could really make him more likeable. Jesse really wanted to give Roger a strong sense of place and loved the idea of filling the rooms that Roger inhabits with personality and intrigue.
LBB> Roger seems quite nerdy. How is he going to fly the Dabble flag at major sporting events and relate with their fans?
James> Yes, Roger is nerdy. Unabashedly, so. Being a nerd lends him distinction in a category where there are lots of alpha male voices and makes him more interesting to Dabble’s younger, more gender-neutral customer base.
Roger tends to be more interested in the cultural orbit of sporting events than the sporting events themselves. He’s more interested in the haircuts of football players, for example, than football itself. And he’s just as enthusiastic to talk with girls on social media about ‘fashion on the field’ as he is to talk to their boyfriends about the horses on the track. Just as casual sports fans typically are.
To that extent, Roger has lots of big plans. There’s talk of a rap album and potentially a hip fashion range. Whatever lets him feel more like the real human people on Dabble.
LBB> What kind of response and results have been garnered from the campaign so far? What insights were particularly useful in understanding consumer engagement for Dabble?
David> PCRs [post-click rates] are still filtering in but the business has seen fantastic year-on-year growth. Roger appeared predominantly in media environments tailored to awareness. Our KPIs were based on CTRs [click-through rates] and Video Completion Rates and we exceeded ours and platform benchmarks. Roger has also featured in some of our biggest retail offers, where we are 60% up YoY in customer growth.
In an industry driven by value, Dabble aims to deliver an experience. Our approach is guided by insights that inform us there is a large consumer base whose attitudinal drivers are aligned to immersive social experiences.
Dabble’s product is very different and designed to provide an immersive, socialised betting experience. We use fun, gamified experiences to change up similar experiences that coexist with our unique products. At the end of the day, we exist to deliver the most immersive social experience we can for punters. Our challenge is to continue to deliver this while catering for our customers’ need for value in the form of promotions.
LBB> What are the learning points and takeaways from it?
Matt> Roger continues to be extremely effective. Yes, he’s likeable, but more importantly, he clearly manifests the strength of our product and is able to speak to our audience in a way that clearly resonates. Being able to create a character on the Dabble app that can continue to live in the platform and invigorate the immersive experience is one of the great strengths of the approach.
LBB> Is Roger going to live out his nine lives as a tragic ‘copycat’?
Matt> So long as Dabble’s ‘Copy Bet’ feature remains at the forefront of their offering, it’s highly likely that Roger will remain a copycat. It’s something he’s hardwired to do. And yet, he’s also built to adapt and reflect the app itself. So, you never know.
LBB> Looking forward, how does the campaign set bars for approaching such briefs and in tackling the betting industry?
Matt> Roger is proof that betting companies don’t have to walk and talk the same way, or with the same kind of brand voice that we have long associated with the category. Our challenge will always be to speak to a more modern, more socially minded betting audience in fresh, relevant and meaningful ways.
It also shows the value in listening to your community and reflecting their values.