Bringing sports betting smarts to next-gen trading

Pepperstone's chief marketing officer shares how his brand strategy and campaign approach is benefitting from his long tenure at Sportsbet

Investing is a serious business, and one that poses significant consequences for reckless or risky behaviour. But it can also deliver rewards above and beyond just financial gains, especially for those investors who enjoy the thrill of picking winners.

Tony Gruebner is well acquainted with the excitement that comes with backing one’s judgement, thanks to the nine years he spent in various marketing and data roles at Sportsbet. Now, Gruebner is into his second year as the chief marketing officer of Pepperstone, a Melbourne-born global online foreign exchange and CFD broker with customers in 173 countries.

The role has given him a crash course in understanding the minds of modern investors and exposed him to parallels with his previous client base.

“In some regards we are in the entertainment industry,” Gruebner tells CMO. “People are looking for that thrill of the challenge and the chance to verify their opinions and work out if they are correct or not.

“In sports betting, often it wasn’t about whether you won, it was about whether you had a good story to tell you mates at the pub at the end of the day. We need to understand that thrill of the challenge is core to the DNA of why people are intrigued by our product and get so much fulfillment out of using it.”

This notion of playfulness is on display in Pepperstone’s latest brand campaign, developed in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi NZ, which highlights the different conversations that might be going on inside an investor’s mind.

“We wanted something that had a little bit of personality, and that was subtle and not too try-hard,” Gruebner says. “And we are quite happy with where we ended up from that point of view.”

The campaign features the inner dialogue of an investor as they set their strategy, interweaved with some of the more mundane aspects of their life. Gruebner says he considered it important to introduce humour into the campaign to differentiate Pepperstone from the many other brokers it competes with.

“Since Covid hit, demand for our products has been through the roof,” Gruebner claims. “But the thing with that is the number of brokers and competitors has also gone through the roof. The challenge for us is we literally have about 200 different competitors around the world. So how do we make sure we stand out, and how do we make sure that we are not just another bland carbon copy of other brokers?”

Gruebner was determined to ensure Pepperstone could stand out through its campaign, and worked with Saatchi & Saatchi to bring out themes that he believed were already present within the business.

“Pepperstone has a unique and cool personality - slightly quirky, and probably a little more informal than most financial businesses are,” Gruebner says. “Customers love our approach and love who we are, and that probably was not reflected enough in our branding. So what we wanted to do was have an ad where the core brand values were a reflection of our internal values.

“The average age of our customers at signup is 31, which is pretty young. They are serious traders who understand what they are doing, but ultimately we realise that doesn’t mean they are exclusively a formal person – they can still be someone that is up for a bit of fun.”

Another critical requirement was to ensure Pepperstone conveyed that it understood traders and their needs, which led to exploring the kind of arguments that go on inside their heads. Gruebner says this behaviour was well understood by the agency team.

“They had a really good understanding of what it means to be a trader, and that emotional element,” Gruebner says.

Pepperstone has taken the new campaign to market via various digital channels, including Bloomberg, TradingView and Investing.com, but Gruebner says he is taking a wider approach than normal to audience acquisition.

“What we have found is the more targeted you can be with your advertising, the better,” Gruebner says. “There is a very defined group of people that trade, and if you are spending marketing dollars on people who aren’t in that group, then you are essentially wasting your dollars. But we are looking at doing more out of home than we have in the past.

“The campaign has performed really well so far. The feedback that we have got has been overwhelmingly positive. And so there will be someghing we will be looking at in the future along the same idea.”

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