Although the typical horseracing enthusiast is aging, the team plans to attach some youthful energy to the sport. Much like poker's recent glamour renewal, it hopes that horseracing is due for a revival.
“We think we need to generate new interest in this sport of kings that is full of history and pageantry,” said Gerard Cunningham, president of Betfair USA. “Even though we are an online business, we believe in getting people to the track.” Cunningham said the account was in the six-figures.
Betfair is known as one of the world's largest online betting communities and processes about five million transactions a day from its two million registered users worldwide, according to its Web site. Earlier this year, the company acquired TVG, which combines televised coverage from more than 60 of America's tracks with wagering from home online and by phone. The company acquired TVG primarily because wagering on horse racing is currently the only sport in the US where online betting is legal.
Alice Chan, GM of Red's San Francisco office, said immediate plans include helping older fans become comfortable with using online tools and recruiting new fans to racing. Amongst its strategies is bringing attention to the intellectual challenge of the sport.
“The way the Matt Damons of the world brought back interest and glamour to card games and Las Vegas for thirty-something males,” Chan said. “We are devising plans to reach that audience.”
The team also wants to address the stigma that surrounds betting on horses that other sports, like college basketball, do not face as strongly.
“We want to convey the excitement of when you bet on a horse for a few minutes it's like that horse is yours – just for two minutes,” Cunningham added. “Then people get closer to the sport.”
Cunningham said one of the reasons he selected Red is because of prior experience working with the agency through startups. Betfair USA does not have an internal communications team.