After almost three years at Ladbrokes Australia, general manager of marketing and communications James Burnett has decided to move on from the sports betting innovator and take a short break before looking for new opportunities.
Former Fairfax Media sales and marketing leader Burnett was initially lured three years ago by wagering start-up Gaming Investments to grow its brand Bookmaker.com.au, but was then tasked with launching Ladbrokes in Australia when the UK wagering giant acquired Gaming Investments in September 2013.
Over the past three years Ladbrokes has grown to be the third largest sports betting company in Australia, impressive given how competitive this category is in Australia. From a standing start the company grew turnover to $1.5 billion in 2015, the same year that they acquired over 85,000 new depositing customers.
Burnett attributes the success to the “talent and focus of the team at Ladbrokes” and the decisive leadership of CEO Dean Shannon.
“It was a pleasure to work with such smart people,” he said.
Burnett was behind the decision to launch the brand with a cockney voice and commented, “The decision to use (cockney actor) Jamie Kristian was polarizing but the results proved it to be correct. He gave us a unique voice in a cluttered market and the target audience, men 18 to 35 loved him and the “Lock, Stock” style of ads we produced”.
“One of the benefits of working in a start up is that you get access and visibility to any number of projects that don’t always sit strictly within your remit. One such project was the launch of the Ladbrokes card a world- and category-first, branded debit and visa card.
“I have fond memories of Paul Cherry, company COO, and myself meeting with provider Emerchants for the first time literally days before Christmas in 2013, inking the deal between Christmas and New Year and launching the card in late February 2014. In around eight weeks the tech team did all of the development work, which is simply amazing, and the marketing team (two of us at the time) produced a fully integrated campaign to launch the card; it was heady stuff!
“The other project I am most proud to be involved in was the cash-in facility we launched with (Sydney technology payments start-up) Blueshfyt. We were looking for a way to complete the cash transaction loop. We had the Ladbrokes card to take cash out, but we needed a solution at the front-end – a retail solution to handle the proven world of a cash economy.
“Working with Blueshyft the cash-in product was launched with typical Ladbrokes speed and it is now running successfully in more than 1000 newsagents across Australia – with more to come!”
In his final project at Ladbrokes Burnett changed the voice of the brand from a cockney to a quintessential Aussie tone, using well-known Australian actor Gary Sweet. He explained that this change was made to grow market share in men aged over 35.