Rob Gronkowski Will Get a Second Chance at Kicking Glory in FanDuel’s Super Bowl 58 Campaign

Rob Gronkowski wants another shot at Super Bowl glory, and both FanDuel and Wieden+Kennedy are more than happy to give it to him.

The former National Football League tight end isn’t looking for another Super Bowl ring to add to the three he won with the New England Patriots and the one he took home as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For Super Bowl 58, he just wants to make another attempt at the “Kick of Destiny” that 25-mile-per-hour winds pushed wide left during his last Super Bowl campaign with FanDuel and Wieden in Arizona last year.

“Literally, as he missed it, he’s on the ground …’Andrew, you’ve got to let me do this again,’” said Andrew Sneyd, FanDuel’s evp of marketing.

FanDuel handed out $10 million in bonus wagers to customers who placed wagers on its Sportsbook app before Gronkowski’s attempt. But the returns on that spend and the $6 million to $7 million cost of a 30-second ad on Fox last year made it easier to justify giving Gronkowski another chance in 2024.

On the front end, FanDuel saw a 10% increase in brand awareness from more than 14 billion impressions. Its 23% share of voice during its portion of the Super Bowl exceeded both Pepsi (4%) and Mars Wrigley’s M&M brand (18%), and was overshadowed only by Frito-Lay’s Doritos (24%) and Anheuser-Busch InBev (31%).

In more solid results, however, FanDuel averaged 2 million active users at 50,000 bets per minute for roughly 17 million total bets. Of the new online bettors available during last year’s Big Game, FanDuel grabbed 70% of them. As more states allow sports betting and online gaming continues to grow, sportsbooks like FanDuel are more likely to stick with a winning game plan in Big Game marketing situations—even in Las Vegas.

“We tried to stay true to what really matters: There’s over 100 million eyeballs that are going to be watching the Super Bowl and there’s a lot more people that live outside of Nevada than live in it,” Sneyd said. “The geography that matters to us is the phone that’s in their pocket, and that they’re in a state where they’re able to participate as a customer with us.”

Betting on growth

Currently, 35 states and Washington, D.C. allow some form of sports betting.

FanDuel is currently in 24 of those markets and signing up users in Vermont for when that state’s gaming law goes into effect later this year. According to Global Wireless Solutions (GWS), FanDuel and its closest competitor—DraftKings—account for 65% of a growing online gaming market.

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“The market continues to open and more people are open-minded about how putting a $5 sports bet on the game tonight just makes it a more enjoyable experience to watch, win or lose,” Sneyd said. “You get a chance to just lean in and enjoy the game more actively than you would have otherwise.”

According to GWS, the number of monthly active sportsbook app users increased 20% in 2023 from a year earlier, with the amount of time spent on those apps increasing 66% over the same span. The estimated value of all online sportsbook bets in the U.S. is $110 billion.

The bettors FanDuel and others are targeting with Super Bowl ads are getting younger—with the number of players 21 to 28 years old increasing 36% from 2022 to 2023—but also increasingly diverse. In 2019, GWS found that just 20% of online sportsbook bettors were women. By 2023, that share had risen to 33%—with the number of women on sportsbooks increasing 45% from the year before. As FanDuel and its competitors have discovered, women are just about as likely to bet on the Super Bowl (59%) as men (70%).

As online sportsbooks have worked to demystify sports gaming and remove the exclusive language and space that would ordinarily deter players, FanDuel has used its Super Bowl marketing to showcase simplicity.

“It’s the day that we need to make ourselves the most accessible,” Sneyd said. “We have the free-to-play game, anyone can download the sportsbook app and decide, for free, ‘I think [Gronkowski]’s going to make it’ or ‘You know what, he’s a tight end, he’s not going to kick this field goal.”

Blitzing the Big Game

“The challenges that as marketers we often face is that we are too quick to try to excuse that you’re doing one thing or another,” Sneyd said. “When you have a big enough idea, and different ways in which it comes to life at different times, we definitely have the opportunity to drive impact that can deliver on multiple business objectives.”

FanDuel wanted to use the Super Bowl to build brand awareness, but it also needed to sign up new customers and get them familiar with its app. Fulfilling all of those goals required FanDuel and Wieden+Kennedy to look beyond the one kick to multiple means of grabbing fans’ attention.

To wring the most out of its latest campaign, FanDuel is stretching the saga of Gronkowski’s second kick over five spots. The first has him wandering the Arizona desert after his first failed attempt before encountering Carl Weathers, who offers guidance similar to that he doled out as Apollo Creed to Sylvester Stallone’s despondent title character in the Rocky sequels—or as golf pro Chubbs Peterson to Adam Sandler’s rage-addled Happy Gilmore.

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The second spot sees Gronkowski get a second chance from FanDuel at the expense of WWE star John Cena, who now roots for him to miss. A third spot acts as part movie trailer, part hype reel before leading into a live kick after the Super Bowl’s National Anthem and before the coin toss. The series ends with a mid-game celebration of whichever outcome occurred roughly an hour earlier.

From the beginning of the campaign, FanDuel will be using its ecommerce platform to measure how many visitors the ads are driving, how many people are picking “make” or “miss” on Gronkowski’s kick and how they can tweak the campaign on social channels as needed. While Sneyd noted that gaining awareness among a national audience would ordinarily justify sizable Super Bowl ad spending, the added business and data associated with signing up new bettors on game day gave FanDuel and its partners considerable incentive to put Gronkowski back in the game.

“We have the fortunate benefit that we are an intrinsic part of sports—unlike perhaps the auto industry or a CPG company, we’re actually a part of the game,” Sneyd said. “One of the things that I was really clear with the team on is, whatever idea we come up with, we can’t lose the fact that we have an intrinsic right to be part of game day, instead of [being] an advertiser during the Super Bowl.”

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