An Interview with Paul Blanchard, Director of Marketing, Scottish Premier League

By Gerrard, Bill | International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, June-July 1999 | Go to article overview

An Interview with Paul Blanchard, Director of Marketing, Scottish Premier League


Gerrard, Bill, International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship


Introduction

Paul Blanchard joined the SPL in 1998 from NFL Europe and has a background in sports marketing and financial services. A graduate of Leeds University, he joined Sun Alliance Insurance Group in 1986, and was appointed marketing manager for Ladbrokes four years later, promoting the company's retail betting chain and moving to assume responsibility for ClubCall, working with in-stadia betting and football editorial services. After returning to financial services with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Paul joined the Scottish Claymores and was responsible for marketing American Football in Europe. Here he talks to Dr Bill Gerrard of Leeds University Business School.

BG: Your career so far has involved a number of marketing jobs in the sports industry, broadly defined, and financial services. What was it that attracted you to a career in marketing in the first place?

PB: I studied economics and econometrics at university. Although the course was sort of market and sales driven, and that was really the main attraction, realistically you come out of university without any definitive idea of what you want to do. But certainly the promotional side of the economics degree that I did really suggested that that should be the path I should take. I started with Sun Alliance in 1986 as a graduate trainee. The beauty of that scheme was that it was a very rounded scheme covering all aspects of sales and marketing. There was the direct sales, the telephone sales, and there was direct marketing. There were also big-brand initiatives, the sales through appointed representatives, sales through the broker chain, and sales direct to customers. So it gave you an opportunity to look at marketing and sales in its broader sense and then to specialise. My specialisation proved to be advertising and promotion in the branding exercise that Sun Alliance were going through at the time.

BG: You moved to Ladbrokes in 1990 as marketing manager. What were your main responsibilities?

PB: At the time that was my dream job because I'm a huge horse-racing fan. At that point bookmaking was really coming out of the dark ages. Some of the regulations were being relaxed as to what they could actually do. There was quite a significant fight for market share going on between Ladbrokes, Corals and William Hill. The objective was to develop the Ladbrokes brand and to market it through its 2,000 betting shops. So it was very much aimed at driving traffic into the shops; a very retail approach.

BG: And what were the main elements of the promotion strategy?

PB: It was twofold. First, the development of the Ladbrokes brand so that if someone is looking to have a bet, then you put Ladbrokes in front of them and Ladbrokes becomes the natural choice. Second, it was price-driven. You had to have very competitive pricing to give the best value for those who are specifically looking for a bet on a particular horse or a dog or a football team or whatever. There was a promotional side as well providing incentives, loyalty schemes and the like. Basically if you are in a situation where there are two or three betting shops within 500 yards of each other on the high street, something that is very common, you want to provide the point of difference that will mean that the punter goes into Ladbrokes rather than Corals.

BG: And how did you manage to create that point of difference?

PB: The point of difference really was created by the branding exercise. Particularly on the back of football, Ladbrokes became a good place to go. We had at the time some very interesting and innovative loyalty schemes whereby you would go in and have a bet to a certain level. You would be rewarded by points and those points would be redeemed for future values or future bets. That was very successful.

BG: And one of the things that you got involved in at Ladbrokes was ClubCall. What did that involve?

PB: ClubCall was bought by Ladbrokes from British Telecom around 1990/91. …

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