The EU Referendum marked this year’s most important political event in bookmakers’ calendars. But for Ladbrokes, it provided an opportunity to increase its share of voice compared to competitors, such as betfair or William Hill, as it sought to become the most quoted bookmaker in the run up to Referendum Day on 23 June.
The EU Referendum also provided an opportunity to position Ladbrokes’ head of political betting Matthew Shaddick as a trusted expert, offering insight into bookmaker odds and the likely outcome, as journalists were somewhat disillusioned with opinion pollsters following the General Election when not one predicted the final result. Historically, journalists have cited booking odds but have been less keen to use bookmakers as experts on political events.
Ultimately, the PR process would attract new customers to Ladbrokes’ website and more than 2,100 shops across the UK. Much of Ladbrokes’ betting analysis was communicated through its long-standing Twitter account, @LadPolitics, with more than 11,000 followers, which provides regular odds on political issues or topics such as the Man Booker Prize.
But with just 50 days until the Referendum, agency Cicero stepped up the pace. Every day, an email was sent to all UK political journalists with the most up-to-date odds. Each release was different to reflect on different aspects, such as betting numbers, special odds or regional disparities. Cicero then put in calls to broadcasters to put forward Shaddick, and other Ladbrokes’ experts, to discuss that day’s release on air, or for a future programme.
As a result, he made ten broadcast appearances, featuring on the BBC’s Daily Politics, Sky News, BBC Radio 5 Live, CNBC and Bloomberg. Cicero also secured Shaddick several regular opinion pieces in the national print media, including four in the The Daily Telegraph. He wrote twice for The Times Red Box daily email, leading to an invite for Shaddick to feature on their podcast. (He was the only bookmaker to do so.)
Working with Ladbrokes’ in-house PR team and the UKIP press office, Cicero also managed to secure coverage across both print and broadcast media of UKIP’s former leader Nigel Farage placing a £1,000 bet on Leave in a Ladbrokes betting shop.
On the evening of the EU Referendum, Cicero sent daily updates to journalists. As a result of the campaign, Ladbrokes was the most quoted bookmaker in the run up to the EU Referendum. It received 34 per cent of all print mentions in June, and a higher proportion online. Ladbrokes’ betting odds and expertise achieved 123 pieces of coverage across all major print and online media, and was mentioned 229 times by senior journalists on Twitter.
The EU Referendum is now the biggest non-sporting event in Ladbrokes’ history. Its dedicated referendum site received almost one million views while nearly 10,000 new customers signed up as a result of its activity.
‘This was a solid tactical campaign,’ said the judges. ‘There was a proper commitment to the cause, and while competing in a very cluttered market, this was media relations on steroids.’