Responsible Gambling Week – Corporate Social Responsibility

We’re delighted to have been announced as a finalist for our first Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the CIPR Excellence Awards 2019. We have everything crossed for tonight’s star-studded event but before we straighten our ties and put our glad rags on, we wanted to share our award-winning entry with you. Gain insight into the impact and engagement our PR and social media teams delivered for a large industry body.

The brief

The Industry Group for Responsible Gambling wanted a targeted social responsibility campaign to promote responsible gambling amongst customers and the wider public.

Responsible Gambling Week (RGW) took place across the UK & Ireland, November 1 – 7th, 2018. Our aims and objectives for the campaign were:

  • To raise awareness of the campaign amongst gambling operators and encourage participation
  • Raise awareness amongst customers of how to gamble responsibly
  • Raise awareness of the tools available to help customers gamble responsibly
  • Raise awareness amongst gamblers and in the wider community of where to find help and support for those who need it

Our research and planning

The prevalence of gambling, especially amongst young adults, has become a contentious political issue. Gambling operators have a statutory obligation to ensure their customers gamble responsibly, but they also have a duty as good corporate citizens to go beyond their statutory commitments.

But how do you reach your customers with these responsible gambling messages?

We reviewed research on the subject, including publications by Playing Safe, an independent academic panel working with the casino industry, which suggested an informal, conversational tone has greater cut-through than heavy-handed public health-style messaging. Younger gamblers perceive this as ‘too nanny state’.

We were asked for input into the campaign messaging and it was agreed there would be five central messages:

  • Set your limits for time and money
  • Only spend what you can afford
  • Gambling is not the answer to any problem
  • Gambling shouldn’t interfere with your personal relationships
  • Gambling when angry is not a good idea

In addition, there were 20 ‘conversation starters’, designed for use on social channels and to trigger discussion. Examples included: ‘Just a heads up…. it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re gambling’; ‘Play smart…know your limits’ and ‘What time is it? Keep an eye on the clock’.

We had three primary audiences we set out to target:

  • Gambling operators and staff
  • Regular gamblers
  • Occasional gamblers and non-gamblers

Our brief from the client was to avoid engaging with national media as they would make it a debate about problem gambling rather than responsible gambling. We, therefore, targeted three main media audiences:

  • Trade media
  • Regional media
  • Alternative publishing platforms

Our strategy was to find a way of creating a national conversation without engaging with conventional national media. The issue of football clubs being sponsored by gambling companies was becoming increasingly sensitive, we used this to approach clubs directly to persuade them it was in their interests to support the campaign.

We knew if clubs shared our assets through their social channels and at their stadium, we would reach a mass audience, including one of our primary audiences: young, male gamblers. We could also use football clubs’ involvement to spark interest with the regional media.

Strategic tactics

With no budget for commissioning original research or other campaign collateral, PHA conceived and implemented the campaign strategy. Campaign assets were focused on the five key messages about what it means to gamble responsibly, which were created by the Client.

We launched the campaign in the trade press in July to secure buy-in from operators. We maintained momentum through a series of news updates, interviews and thought leadership pieces with John Hagan, chairman of the IGRG. We posted from our Twitter and Facebook channels, creating engaging visual content. We persuaded many Trade titles and online platforms to carry free RGW advertising.

We secured a partnership with the EFL and sponsor Sky Bet, and with individual Premier League clubs.

During Responsible Gambling Week:

  • Free adverts appeared in every EFL match programme and on big screens and LEDs
  • Key responsible gambling messages and videos were promoted on clubs’ social channels and two teams, Swansea City and West Ham, changed their match kits to carry the RGW logo
  • We secured a partnership with the Racecourse Association, involving all leading courses. At a televised Ascot meeting, a race was renamed as the RGW Stakes and the winner’s enclosure was RGW-branded.


Our strategy was to make the #RGWeek18 hashtag as widely visible as possible to promote conversation and publicise the responsible gambling messages. We were set a KPI of 10 million impressions – we generated almost 19.5 million.

A small percentage, around 400,000 impressions, were generated by an Instagram influencer campaign commissioned from another agency, involving former cricketer Graeme Swann and hockey player Sam Quek.

With gambling operators facing a political storm, we felt it was important to include political engagement in the campaign. Our approach was to hold a focused drop-in event for MPs with a strong interest in gambling – supporters and opponents of the industry. The event cost nothing and the client felt it led to more concentrated and useful engagement than in 2018.

Our results

#RGWeek18 generated 19,319,184 total impressions for the campaign period – in comparison to seven million impressions during Responsible Gambling Week 2017.

An external agency, Chrysalis, independently evaluated RGW and found that awareness of the campaign amongst the general population had increased by 2% from 2017 to 2018. The proportion of gamblers who had seen responsible gambling messages in newspapers increased from 9% in 2017 to 17% in 2018.

160 pieces of Media coverage were generated as a result:

  • B2B Trade and Industry: 64.
  • Regional print and online: 62.
  • Regional broadcast: 4.
  • Football Club websites: 26.
  • Racecourse websites: 4.

If you’d like to find out how we can deliver an award-winning campaign for your brand or business please get in touch with us today.

Get in touch with the team