Rebranding the bookie

Published:  July 19, 2012
Charlie Rose
Rebranding the bookie

Tom Waterhouse: gambling for a new generation

Brief: Appeal to a new generation of gamblers and create a distinct brand for from the competition in the racing/sports betting industry.

Client: – online betting agency owned and run by 3rd generation professional bookmaker Tom Waterhouse

Desired outcome: Attract new customers to gambling by altering the image of sports betting and increase brand awareness of

When you want to increase market share of any brand, effective design is good design. launched over a year ago with a distinct look that combined his well-recognised family name and modern sophistication. This was a big push towards new audiences armed with a war chest that is changing the image of sports betting around Australia. has started to shift the image of betting on the races from middle-aged men shuffling around discarded white betting tickets to fresh-faced, champagne swilling youths wearing snappy suits and reaching for iPads. It’s a pretty simple formula. Bring in a known commodity that people trust and make it sexy. It’s a campaign that is stating that: gambling is cool, gambling is for you; cashed up Gen Y professionals, gambling is harmless/fun and if you follow Tom’s advice you won’t lose much.

Yes, this is the kind of campaign dreamed up by the ‘accounts department’ in a bid to drive up the media budget, but I believe it’s changing perceptions of the Australian sports betting, while gambling is a hotly charged political issue in Australia. It’s now sexy, modern and a valid Gen Y pursuit – the key factors to the campaign. branding image

In a study completed by The Economist in 2010, Australia was the world’s biggest gambler per capita. With the loss per resident adult reach nearly $1,300 annually. This is more than double the third highest nation (which is Ireland) of under $600 a year. In 2008 regulations governing cross-border betting and gambling advertisements, overseas and domestic bookmakers have been battling each other for a piece of the local market and this year the market is worth more than $20 billion a year. has gone all in with a multi-million dollar campaign of free-to-air, print and online advertisements, including his $70,000 turquoise Melbourne tram.

Tom Waterhouse tram wrap

Melbourne independent creative agency Fenton Stephens has given the betting agency a name and a story. It’s an Australian story of success that positions itself apart in the gambling sphere by being fresh faced and current. Previously betting agencies were faceless groups such as TAB, Sportsbet and Centrebet. Fenton Stephens have reached out to a league of new gamblers with exciting and emotive black and white multiple speed video coupled with a now fresh but soon to be dated minty/turquoise green. Like it or not this tried and true simple formula has created a powerful brand that has seen his client base rise to 80,000. The brand name is not only the website but also includes iPad/mobile-based apps that allow and encourage betting anytime, anywhere.

Tom Waterhouse app

The classic black and white imagery shows how easy and accessible it is to bet on any sport you can think of. Fenton Stephens were involved creating the online presence as well and have integrated social media to encourage online betting with Beat The Baron. This is a classic case of gamification through social media. The idea is to bet against The Baron with winnings and social kudos going to those that do. Tom promotes tweets, sponsors major sporting teams such as the Wallabies and Sydney Swans and links the two together in a super slick TV commercial campaign.

Tom Waterhouse online

Tom’s Racing twitter account gives consumers RacingInsider tips that encourages long odds, updates about injuries and encourage interaction with Facebook sporting photo albums. Can you believe that he also has a blog that aims to Increase your betting IQ? You can subscribe to EDMs that give ‘free expert analysis’ and you can even Ask the Baron to Beat the Baron. Once plugged into the turquoise rabbit hole you find yourself on a never ending loop ‘finding out from the best’… who knew you wanted to know the great odds on female Olympic kick boxing? has campaigned stoking the celebrity of his family: ‘Yes, you can join right now. No, you can’t date my sister.’ Coupling celebrity with business is something Donald Trump has been doing exceedingly well for decades and it’s a template that definitely creates brand awareness. Every time his mother attends a Gala event or wins a prominent race, or his sister gets married in Italy, he gets brand exposure.

Tom says, “I always say to people who bet with me, ‘Anything in excess is bad for you: shopping, eating, gambling.’”  But as image creators/shepherds do we have a responsibility to our broader community? Working to promote products or services that are dangerous to health and livelihood will always be a vexed issue. AGDA’s Code of Ethics states: “A Member shall work in a manner so that as little harm (direct or indirect) as possible is caused to the natural environment.” The core of this idea is that we should be putting our community first and ourselves last. Designers should recognise that their work contributes to the well-being of the broader public. Prominent campaigns that have wide exposure become unavoidable parts of the cultural fabric.

Further reading with…
Dave the Designer
and David Airey

Thumbnail image: Taken from Tom Waterhouse Facebook page.
Tram image: sourced from
All other images sourced from Fenton Stephen’s website.

6 Responses

  1. This is a great article, on a worthy subject and kudos to Desktop and CHarlie for exploring such a tricky area.

    Of note for this discussion is a review of the First Things First manifesto, a challenge from Ken Garland in the 60′s for designers to put their intelligence, skills and talents to more meaningful use, rather than simply the pursuit of commercial objectives.

    I’d have been a bit harder on the ethical implications of branding gambling in such a seductive or aspirational manner, but still, a great article, thoughtful and on a meaningful subject matter, and enjoyed reading it.

  2. Ray

    You gutless wonders. That wrongheaded dismissiveness of gambling as only a problem when it gets to excess is pure ignorant crap. This is why I think graphic designer is only part of the problem.

  3. Alice

    You should look at Milton Glaser’s road to hell. Pretty sure this is more than half way there

  4. Mat

    Interesting article. There’s no denying the quality and complex execution on behalf of Fenton Stephen. And good luck to them associating themselves with a gambling account. Why wouldn’t you, considering the size of the gambling industry (20 billion a year, tragic!) What leaves me terribly confused and disappointed is the fact that this agency is also looking (or looked) after the Victorian Human Rights Commission and the Victorian Government. Stick to the grubby stuff and leave the REAL community positive focused work to people which actually care without spin.

  5. Matt

    Too many marketing 101 mistakes in the TW brand & campaigns. Comes across as try-hard. Content on-site is shallow. What is this trying to acheive – educate non-betting people about betting, or attract people who already enjoy a flutter on the footy or races to come join me (“bet with me”… like an unpopular kid in primary school asking the cool kids “Come to my birthday”).

    Worse still, since the launch, the same old tired message.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *