Resonate wins brief to restore 'iconic' status of football pools

The company behind the football pools has hired Chime Communications' consumer agency Resonate for a major relaunch of the once iconic game.

Pools: No more big cheques and cheesy photos
Pools: No more big cheques and cheesy photos

Before the launch of the National Lottery in 1994, around eight million people played the football pools every week. Now that figure is just 700,000.

'The football pools used to be part of the fabric of society and the aim of the relaunch is to achieve that again,' said Resonate director and co-founder Graham Drew.

Sportech owns the Littlewoods and Vernons brands and is to combine them to form a new game, badged The New Football Pools. The company is spending £5m on above and below the line marketing in preparation for the start of the 2008/09 football season in August.

Sportech acquired Vernons Pools from Ladbrokes for £51m in November and it now owns 99 per cent of UK football pools. At the time, the Financial Times opined that Sportech's CEO Ian Penrose had 'a task few peers in the leisure industry would envy', describing the pools as a 'dying business' with the average age of players being 59.

In order to 'make the pools feel relevant again', Resonate will aim to dispel the image of the pools as tied up with 'big cheques, cheesy photos and champagne', and modernise the brand, said Drew.

Resonate's PR campaign will aim to appeal to younger players, with tools including online games and applications for use on social networking sites such as Facebook. According to government regulations, the pools can be played by anyone over the age of 16.

The campaign will focus on the 'skill' element of the pools, drawing on the huge popularity of fantasy football and emphasising the fact that players can use their knowledge of football to play the game.

Sportech handed sister Chime-owned advertising agency VCCP the advertising account for the relaunch last year. Resonate was hired late last month, without a pitch.

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