:8: The Fantasizing Consumer

I’m sure that by now, most people have heard of fantasy sports, but I bet the story of how it came to be is not so well-known.

It started before computers were around, let alone the internet where fantasy sports really took off. Avid baseball fans would pick players from any real team to be on their own fantasy team and follow the stats of those players intensely from the box scores of the morning paper.

A few men are credited with inventing this game, but none of them received any sort of cash value. Fantasy baseball was just a game, a hobby, something to do and get good at. None of them thought to make any money out of it, which is unfortunate because now ESPN, Yahoo!, and many other sites attract a great deal of traffic thanks to fantasy sports. In fact, ESPN was so bold as to make a documentary about it.

After a few years of playing fantasy baseball, I have to say my interest and knowledge has greatly increased, which I’m sure can be said for most fantasy participants around the world.

While I prepare for each season as if it were my own religion, I still have to admit that a big chunk of fantasy sports comes down to, for lack of a better term, luck. But that is precisely why I believe it is so popular. If your league has a buy-in and cash prizes, it’s essentially a loophole to gambling.

This, of course, got me to thinking of whether this sort of thing could be brought into another fantasy world: advertising. Then I remembered Papa John’s recent Super Bowl campaign, where customers who signed up for Papa John’s Papa Rewards got to vote on whether the Super Bowl coin flip would land on heads or tails.  60% correctly voted for heads, so those who voted will be getting a free large one-topping pizza and a 2-liter Pepsi MAX.

This campaign is absolutely brilliant. It pleased a ton of customers and made all potential customers jealous of those who went online and voted. While gambling is a dangerous habit, it’s still something that people love to do. I think Papa John’s just opened the door for a whole new kind of advertising.

Sure, there have been a great deal of campaigns that give rewards to the random customer that bought the soda with the right cap on it, but that’s more like the lottery than getting a choice of heads or tails.

With the Papa John’s campaign, the customer feels like they played a significant part in winning themselves a free pizza and soda when they really didn’t do anything significant at all.

Meanwhile, by staying away from directly betting on sports, Papa John’s was able to elevate their sports-loving brand persona in the minds of millions of people.

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