Marketing

“I’ll see you down the Ubet, said no one ever”: TAB sticks it to competitor, but are negative ads a good idea?

Kirsten Robb /

Sports agency TAB has fired shots at its competitor Ubet by taking out a newspaper ad barbing the rival betting operator.

The negative advertising is a bold marketing strike against the backdrop of a highly competitive Australian betting market.

TAB this week took out the half page newspaper ad for its online presence Tab.com.au with the text, “’I’ll see you down the Ubet’ said no one ever,” according to Mumbrella. The kicker reads, “TAB has been at the heart of racing and sport in our country for decades.”

Ubet, owned by betting agency Tatts Group, is the rebranded moniker of its wagering arm Tattsbet, which launched earlier this year with a new digital focus.

But Penny Glasson, Ubet brand general manager, told SmartCompany this morning the betting operator is taking the insult in its stride.

“We’ve launched a new brand in one of the most highly competitive consumer sectors in the Australian market,” says Glasson.

“It’s good to see we’ve made an impact, but we’re taking it in good humour and planning to stick to our strategy to focus on the customer, rather than worry about reacting impulsively to competitors.”

The marketing battle for the digital betting space has witnessed plenty of bold moves by betting companies since more players have hit the scene and television advertising for betting has been made legal, according to Dr Danielle Chmielewski-Raimondo, a marketing academic from the University of Melbourne.

But Chmielewski-Raimondo sayslaunching a negative marketing campaign against your competitor is always a risky strategy.

“When you have an ad mentioning a rival brand name, whether it’s positive or negative, you run the risk of the viewer focussing on your competitor and not you,” she says.

“You also run the risk of putting people off because people often don’t like to see this kind of negativity, they see it as a bit of bullying behaviour.”

Chmielewski-Raimondo says TAB has likely gone with a shock-value strategy to get some cut through in the ’blokey’ sports betting industry.

Janey Paton, director of marketing and public relations agency Belles and Whistles, agrees TAB is aiming to appeal to an “Aussie male” demographic.

“They are clearly targeting the ‘Aussie bloke’ by tapping into that vernacular by adding in the phrase ‘said no one ever’, which is quite popular at the moment. It’s an attempt to be humorous,” says Paton.

She agrees ribbing your competitors is a risky move that may backfire on your brand.

“It’s risky clearly because could you have to expect you might get something in return,” she says.

“It can also come across as a bit desperate. Lashing out at a competitor is not something I would recommend. They are more subtle and positive ways to compare your brands.”

Narissa Corrigan, principal at Ampersand Legal, agrees it is important businesses be aware if they fire shots through advertising, they should expect a battle on their hands.

She says brands also must be aware of potential legal issues with defamation or making misleading statements.

“When someone takes on their competitors, they have to be sure they’re in a position to be able to be defend what they say, because it will likely turn into a slinging match,” says Corrigan

SmartCompany contacted TAB but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Kirsten Robb

Kirsten Robb is a former journalist at SmartCompany. Previously, she worked at News Corp as a property reporter for Leader Newspapers and the Herald Sun, and holds a Masters of Journalism at Melbourne University.

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