The first Super Bowl that Ohio sports fans could bet on legally in the state was a thriller, with the Kansas City Chiefs eking out a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the final seconds of the game.
Ohio sports betting just kicked off on Jan. 1, and the state’s online sportsbooks have been in customer acquisition mode since well before the launch date.
With the attention given to Super Bowl commercials every year, one would think that those sportsbook apps would be lining up to buy spots to run during the game, even with the reported $6-$7 million price tag for 30-second ads.
But Ohio online sportsbooks had only a modest presence during the Super Bowl broadcast on Fox, with only two sports betting commercials running during the entire game.
FanDuel built anticipation for “Kick of Destiny” live commercial
FanDuel Sportsbook had one of the more unique and high profile commercials during the Super Bowl. All told, the company also probably spent more than most other Super Bowl advertisers, considering all of the costs associated with the ad.
For weeks leading up to the game, FanDuel Sportsbook ran numerous commercials related to its big Super Bowl promotion. The cheeky ads promoted its “Kick of Destiny” stunt, in which former Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski would attempt to kick a 25-yard field goal live during the Super Bowl. (One of those commercials actually ran just after Chris Stapleton’s stirring rendition of the National Anthem.)
If Gronk made the kick, anyone who placed at least a $5 bet on the game through FanDuel would split a $10 million jackpot (paid out in FanDuel bonus bets, of course).
Many Super Bowl viewers were surprised and confused with the resulting 30-second live commercial, which aired near the beginning of the third quarter.
Gronk misses the kick in rushed Super Bowl spot
The live commercial felt very rushed, opening with a quick shot of Gronkowski’s family and “trainer”/former teammate Adam Vinatieri looking on anxiously.
While many were expecting the “live kick during the Super Bowl” to be at the actual site of the Super Bowl, the stunt was performed at an undisclosed location, presumably nearby, as Gronkowski was at the game site to do Fox’s pregame coverage until a couple of hours before kickoff. The location looked like a mini football field replica.
The off-site location was also much windier than it was at Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium, as could be seen in a pre-kick tweet from Gronk.
Alas, Gronk’s kick took a drastic hook to the left, seemingly caught in a wind gust, and he missed it. But, as Gronk collapsed in anguish and fireworks erupted, the commercial informed viewers that “You still win!”
FanDuel users still split $10 million despite miss
Despite the miss, the ad stated that the $10 million jackpot would still be dispersed among FanDuel bettors and that the “bonus bet” would appear in their accounts the following day.
While that was presented as a special surprise, eagle-eye watchers — like PlayOhio’s own Brett Gibbons — noticed that, as the Super Bowl got closer, the verbiage around the offer seemed to switch from FanDuel users splitting the jackpot if Gronk “made” the field goal to if he “kicked” the field goal.
A game-day blog on FanDuel’s website explaining the promo even had some confusing language, first saying the deal was good if Gronkowski “makes the field goal,” but then two paragraphs later quoting “FanDuel” as saying, “If he kicks it, you’ll get a piece of $10,000,000 in bonus bets.”
Many viewers insisted Gronk did make the kick
On social media, viewers seemed more confused by the kick itself, with many insisting that it appeared as if Gronkowski had actually made the kick.
Indeed, the view in the commercial made it look as though the kick may have hooked after going through the uprights.
But a FanDuel tweet showing the kick from a different angle made it more obvious that Gronk’s kick was well off the mark.
Ultimately, FanDuel’s Super Bowl commercial was a bit anticlimactic, with the spot itself being a let down and a bit of a chaotic blur (it clocked in just under 30 seconds) after such a fun lead-up.
Still, give FanDuel credit for the overall concept. It certainly garnered more pregame attention and brand engagement than most of the other Super Bowl commercials.
DraftKings commercial features Kevin Hart, celeb cameos
DraftKings Sportsbook went a much more traditional route with its ad, relying on the tried-and-true Super Bowl commercial trope of celebrity cameos.
Like the FanDuel ad, DraftKings’ Super Bowl commercial — which ran in the first quarter, just after the first Chiefs touchdown — also offered something of value to its current and potential new users. The message of the ad was that all customers get a free $5 bet.
The DraftKings spot starred spokesperson Kevin Hart, who’s been at the center of DraftKings’ ad campaign for the past year. In the ad, Hart (whose Hartbeat Productions produced the commercial) is shown hosting a party as he wonders aloud about DraftKings’ free bet offer.
The spot follows Hart around the party as wordplay helps introduce the guests.
“Man, that’s big…” Hart starts, before the scene cuts to NFL legend Emmitt Smith addressing fellow partygoer “Papi,” as in baseball great David Ortiz.
From there the commercial moves on to party guests like rapper Ludacris, basketball legends Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Lisa Leslie, wrestler The Undertaker and skateboarding icon Tony Hawk.
It’s a clever enough commercial, though it doesn’t seem like something that will make anyone’s “best Super Bowl commercials” list this year.
DraftKings ran promo related to Molson Coors commercial
DraftKings also went after some Super Bowl commercial engagement in a different way, teaming up with Molson Coors to allow users to bet on its beer Super Bowl ad ahead of the game.
Promoted as “the first ad you can play on DraftKings,” the sportsbook let users bet (for free) on different details in the secret Molson Coors Super Bowl commercial for a chance to win part of a $500,000 prize pool.
In the promo, users could bet on things like which beer — Coors Light or Miller Light (both made by Molson Coors) — would be mentioned first, what type of dog would be featured behind the bar and what the bartender is wearing.
Users could also bet on which beer the commercial was actually for, which, though the other brands were featured in the spot, turned out to be Blue Moon (also made by Molson Coors).
While DraftKings wasn’t mentioned in the bizarre beer ad itself, the betting element was promoted by DraftKings and the beer maker in the lead up to the Super Bowl.
Sportsbooks have had light Super Bowl presence past three years
Last year’s Super Bowl also only featured two sportsbook commercials. Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings both ran 30-second spots in 2022 during the Super Bowl LVI broadcast on NBC.
In 2021, DraftKings was the only sports betting operation to advertise during the Super Bowl, with two 15-second spots promoting a free-to-play betting opportunity related to that year’s big game.
Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel are official sports betting partners of the NFL.
Ohio sportsbooks leaned on promotions before Super Bowl LVII
Leading up to the game, Ohio sports bettors had a plethora of enticing Super Bowl LVII bonuses and promos from which to choose, with online sportsbooks offering a variety of deals, from odds boosts to bet credits.
It was easy to assume that sportsbook companies would be all in on the high-profile advertising opportunity during the most watched and most bet upon sporting event of the year, particularly as the sports betting industry experiences massive growth.
Twenty-six states now allow online sports betting, including Ohio. That’s up from just 18 states a year ago.
The American Gaming Association reported recently that a record 50.4 million American adults were expected to bet on the Super Bowl this year, wagering an estimated $16 billion on the game. Ohio was set to rank among the biggest Super Bowl betting states in the country, bringing in $82.6 million in bets on its own, according to projections from PlayOhio.
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