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Poker Sponsorship in Sport

by Roy Brindley |  Published: Sep 01, 2010


Full Tilt Sponsorship on VR-01The trend of pretty girls and sports stars endorsing poker sites continues unabated. In fact anything other than poker players now seems to be of interest to the marketing managers of online poker sites.

PartyPoker is sponsoring anything from the World’s Strongest Man competition to boxing matches, darts, ten-pin bowling, and snooker, while Paddy Power and Bodog have recently bid $75 million and $100 million respectively for the signature of golfer Tiger Woods.

Clearly a mass audience, the uninitiated general public, is now seen as the chosen target as opposed to the touting of the specific product to the converted, such as the 60,000 plus individuals that will have attended the 2010 World Series of Poker.

On this theme, the cost, size, and impact of Full Tilt’s principle sponsorship of the fledgling, albeit already recurrent Formula 1 back-markers, Team Virgin cannot be calculated in cost or value. It does, however, clearly land in the ballpark of phenomenal and outrageous.

Just consider each and every one of the 19 F1 races, which make up the 2010 season, will be watched by a global audience of 600 million people tuned in from every part of the globe — as F1 is broadcast into every country in the world.

Now, while you will not spot a Virgin Racing driver on a podium anytime this side of 2015, the worth of the odd glance of a Full Tilt logo on a mechanic (who received an inexplicable amount of publicity during the Valencia Grand Prix) is colossal.

Websites and show that Kingfisher, an Indian Beer company, enjoyed $5.27 million worth of exposure from a single race, the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, as title sponsors of the Force India Team who are best described as a “mid-pack” outfit.

Similarly, over the course of the season, Toyota, another mid-pack team who failed to win a race in 2009, gained media exposure worth $95 million for their principle sponsor, Panasonic.

Whilst the neophyte Virgin Racing team get most of their airtime when being overtaken (as lapped back markers) or their mechanics are replacing damaged front wings, it would be unwise to put Full Tilt’s annual sponsorship cost at anything under $8 million a year.

Of course the suits and ties at Full Tilt’s Dublin headquarters, or the company’s American owners, will have crunched the numbers and, just like one of them drawing to 14 outs, deemed their deal to be value for money.

Even my simple arithmetic indicates that if 0.001 percent of the F1 viewership ultimately find themselves playing poker on the title-sponsoring site, 60,000 new clients will have been created.

Surely this has got to be good news for both Full Tilt’s founding fathers and for those of us trying to extract money from these novice, probably weak, players from all parts of the world at the tables. Spade Suit