Ladbrokes launches Euro 2020 campaign to the beat of hundreds of drummers

The spot signifies a change in direction for the brand: it’s no longer about the bet, but the game.


Online betting firm Ladbrokes has launched its Euro 2020 campaign, to the beat of hundreds of live drummers.

Capturing the tension and excitement of football, the ad is the first work for Ladbrokes by creative agency Neverland, which was appointed in March. 

The film, directed by Sam Brown of Rogue Films, uses hundreds of drummers to evoke the anticipation and tension that football fans feel during a crucial penalty. As the player backs nervously away from the ball viewers can hear his heart beating in a metronomic rhythm. 

As the camera pans away, it reveals the noise is actually being created by a crowd of drummers surrounding the player and filling the stadium, and even spilling out into the commentary box. 

The drummers also beat out the same rhythm in living rooms, pubs, bus stops, roof tops and city streets, building to a peak as the player runs to the penalty spot and makes contact with the ball. 

The spot, created by Neverland's Noel Hamilton and Lloyd Daniel, signifies a change in direction for Ladbrokes, moving from focusing on the excitement provided by placing a bet to the excitement of the game itself. It signifies the company’s efforts to establish itself as an entertainment brand. 

Stewart Townsend, head of brand marketing at Ladbrokes, told Campaign: “We kind of ripped up the rulebook a bit in terms of how we approached the brief. People are interrupted by ads, so we need to create content that they’re going to love and enjoy and want to watch again, and that’s what we’ve done with the drummers.

“I think the world’s moving to a place where people feel really empowered to express themselves in a way they’ve maybe not felt able to before, and it’s important for brands to do the same in a way that provides positivity and joy and moments that are exciting and entertaining to watch.” 

He added that while there would always be moments to be “selling your propositions and the things you want people to buy”, he believed that “we have a duty in marketing to push work out there that creates a positive feeling and a joyful reaction, to make you want to watch it again. We wanted to capture a sense of joyfulness, of optimistic anticipation as lockdown lifts and live entertainment returns. We wanted to bottle that.” 

Jon Forsyth, founding partner for Neverland’s creative communications, said: “As an agency, it is unbelievably seducing to be given the opportunity to create something that’s culturally relevant for a moment; and this an enormous moment, not just in football but in the country. This is the sort of ad that can define the future of an agency.”

Ladbrokes was impressed with how Neverland harnessed that energy of anticipation, with Townsend remarking: “We had that eureka moment where we knew that was it, that’s what we’ve been looking for, it was absolutely perfect. That’s what the brief called for; we wanted to create the ‘have you seen it?’ moment of 2021 and that’s what we feel we’ve created with this.” 

The ad will launch in a media campaign planned and executed by the7stars on Saturday 29 May during the Champions League final, across both BT Sport and Twitter. Prior to the big launch, there will also be a series of teasers running across Sky Sports. 

Filmed in May this year, the production included employing 190 skilled and experienced drummers, arranged by Del Amitri drummer Ash Soan. The shoot also included 200 extras and employed the use of drone filming, motion capture, body scanning and a huge team of visual effects and CGI artists working to create the epic scenes. 

Mike Dolbear who co-ordinated 1,000 drummers for the 2012 opening ceremony for the London Olympics, arranged the percussion.

The spot is set to a thumping soundtrack, Rock & Roll Queen by The Subways, and the band will premier the ad with an exclusive performance of the song at 9pm on Thursday, which will be streamed across Ladbrokes’ social channels.

Townsend said this was indicative of Ladbrokes attempt to push itself into the popular culture entertainment space it wants to be part of, by connecting the film to a live experience. 

Supporting the events industry

Furthermore to show its support for the music industry and the invisible army behind the scenes, Ladbrokes has partnered #WeMakeEvents – an industry collective raising awareness of the challenges currently being faced by more than 700,000 highly skilled professionals.

A recent #WeMakeEvents survey found that one-third of employees have already left the sector, as they have been forced to opt for stability over passion. The collective is actively campaigning to get those remaining events employees the immediate, tailored support they need to survive the Covid-19 crisis.

Ladbrokes and #WeMakeEvents have teamed up to light up iconic music venues across the country in red, to signal the industry’s emergency. Venues include the Cavern Club in Liverpool, the Albert Hall in Swansea, Camden’s Roundhouse, Barrowlands in Glasgow and Dreamland in Margate. Ladbrokes has pledged a significant donation to support their campaign to help areas of live entertainment outside of sports return to their former glory.

The ad will go on to appear in the Euro 2020 matches, and is supported by multiple cross-channel activations, including online video and social, radio, print and OOH across 2,500-plus sites across the UK. The campaign includes dynamic reactive advertising which means that Ladbrokes can celebrate, commiserate, and interact with fans in real time across both its social channels and publicly on thousands of digital outdoor sites across the nation.

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