Sportech PLC // CASE STUDY
Sportech PLC, world-leader in pari-mutuel pools betting, had been renowned for their OTC (off-track betting) offering in Connecticut for several decades through their established Winners business. Winners, a once booming entity, has since seen its heyday as a regular social hotspot, especially as the world continues to pass the reigns of older generations to their Millennial successors. The demand for new digitally-enabled entertainment and social activities has also risen, with sports betting becoming a leading contender in the space. With legislation to legalize sports betting in Connecticut now around the corner, we saw the perfect opportunity to team with Sportech to reimagine Winners so that it could begin to reach the latest generation of sports enthusiasts—just in time for primetime.
With so much equity already established in the current Winners brand with over 15 physical venues in the mix, we couldn’t totally discard its long-standing legacy of horse racing. Instead, we needed to bridge the generational gap between its current and future audiences and effectively widen its reach to contend with the other high-energy sports and entertainment brands digitally like FanDuel and DraftKings. Beyond that we wanted to position the revamped Winners platform for scale with any sports franchise or market—especially as favorable legislation continues to unlock new revenue opportunities for the business, both on and offline.
Partnering with Sportech’s leadership and marketing teams directly, we were able to completely reimagine the Winners’ brand experience across all touchpoints—from its visual identity to the products and services it’s offering these cohorts in and out of venue. Although legislation to legalize sports betting is still in review, this work has already helped the Sportech team relaunch the Winners brand nationally while simultaneously driving even more demand for legalized sports betting within the state by showing what the future holds for the industry at large.
Chances are, when you think of an OTB, you may imagine a visual of a sparsely occupied bar with older gentlemen outfitted with a drink in one hand and with tote in the other. Immersing ourselves in this world, we quickly discovered that our mental experience was actually pretty accurate. Further compounded by a subdued, yet sophisticated color palette, we felt the Winners brand could best be summed up in one word: “classic.” For the audience, the brand experience may have been a good fit, but if we were going to think bigger and contend with the electrifying energy of MMA fights, fantasy leagues, and game-day celebrations with younger crowds, we needed to make a bold change.
Kicking off the engagement with a brand visioning session, we unpacked everything from leadership’s business objectives to the personality and language of our next generation of sports fans. What did the roadmap to universal legalization look like? What might future venues offer in addition to the core digital experience? What words, phrases, and feelings did these consumers share throughout a game? What brands or experiences did they love and socialize with others? How? From this session and our field ethnography work, we discovered that the answer to all of these called for a full overhaul of the brand’s DNA to match this cohort’s more dynamic lifestyle directly. From second screening on the couch at home to happy hour with friends, we needed this brand to seamlessly weave through digital and physical channels just as fluidly as the audience themselves, while still finding ways to honor the legacy of the brand’s rich racing history.
With the goal of being the first legalized sports betting brand in Connecticut, We wanted Winners to be equally as striking as it was trustworthy, but most importantly, it still needed to be grounded in sports. At the end of the day, Winners is a platform that connects fans, friends, and the games they’re most passionate about. To create a design system that could achieve that, we sourced inspiration across all forms of sports, media, entertainment, and Fintech. that help us capture the thrill of the event, juxtaposed with the dopamine rush that comes when you or your team wins (be it bragging rights or money.) Everything from the vibrant color choices, to the action-oriented imagery, to the subtle use of tote patterns and playbook elements are designed to positively reinforce the highs of friendly competition, social connections and at the end of the day, winning.
In building a design system that could communicate the brand’s new position, we wanted every element to carry the same high-energy personality, right down to the typefaces we used. We hand crafted a custom WINNERS Mono display typeface to further signal the brand regardless of digital and physical application. Keeping true to our north star of energy and athleticism among sports fans, this typeface drew heavy inspiration from sports heritage and collegiate lettering with a contemporary digital twist.
For most sports fans, how you experience the event can be just as important as the outcome of the event itself. For us to truly capture the attention and loyalty of this new audience, we needed to seamlessly integrate the brand at every opportunity—physically and digitally. Beyond exploring OOH and traditional media tactics, we re-outfitted the venues themselves to offer up immediate value to customers.
Knowing this cohort would be largely tethered to their devices even at a social outing, we needed Winners to create more than just the right atmosphere, but also incentivize users throughout the night to interact with the brand in other ways. Leveraging NFC technology, we created branded coasters that could serve as a loyalty program for the brand, while also incorporating tableside betting kiosks and digital sportsbooks for fans to leverage throughout the night.
Knowing that the legalization of sports betting was a hot topic among many within the state of CT, we proposed a digital experience that serve double duty and adapt as the legislation process developed, leading up to the eventual “relaunch” of the platform. This site would effectively become a key cornerstone in our marketing efforts to generate awareness and clearly communicate the refreshed brand as the first and only legalized experience in CT, ready to take other states and markets by storm.
Jennifer Conning, Chief Marketing Officer
Working with DS on this project was refreshing. They were full of creative energy, but also took the time to understand our business, our goals, and our challenges in a way that elevated the work and ultimately help us create something special.
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