This year, PokerStars was acquired by Flutter, absorbed into one of the largest real money gaming companies in the world. The industry’s most successful poker operator is now just a small part of a monolithic gambling company.
That is not all together new. Ever since The Stars Group acquired Sky Betting and Gaming in early 2018, PokerStars has been just one cog in a much larger wheel. The division continued with the launch of FOX Bet, a new brand to lead sports betting and gaming in the United States.
Under Flutter, the dilution continued. PokerStars now sits within a portfolio of over a dozen big brands, with the likes of Paddy Power, a UK and Ireland retail stalwart; Betfair, the global online sports exchange leader; and FanDuel, the fantasy sports and now sports book giant. There is also a pair of Australian businesses; Adjarabet in Georgia; US horse racing business TVG and global media group Oddschecker.
As the world’s largest destination for online poker, PokerStars still stands out and has a clear position within this wider company. But for its highly successful casino vertical and its smaller BetStars sports book, its contribution was less clear—how does it fit within Flutter’s existing products?
The answer to this was a global rebrand. Gone was the idea of a primary poker brand with sports and casino on the side. Instead, PokerStars would act as the master brand, representing a location housing poker, sports and casino under one name.
The BetStars name was retired; PokerStars Sports was born. The operator would seek to market the trio together, using its dominant position in online poker to promote its service as a single destination for real money online entertainment.
This soon led to its 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 single destination for sports and casino as well as poker. Rather than promote the individual products, I’m In is more like lifestyle marketing, showcasing PokerStars as a destination.
This was followed up with the operator’s first A-list partnership for many years: Last week Neymar Jr rejoined PokerStars. One of the world’s most recognizable and influential sports stars, the Brazilian looks set to front the ad campaign in 2021.
Completing a trilogy of interviews shining a light on the inner workings at PokerStars’ marketing and player acquisition efforts, PRO spoke with Martin Nieri, Global Creative Director, to understand more about this branding overhaul, two years in the making.