The online casino and sports betting outfit BK8 is desperate to make inroads into the European market.
One of their tactics to increase the brand’s exposure in the UK was to sign a shirt sponsorship agreement with Norwich City, the East Anglian club that had secured promotion back to the Premier League in time for the 2021/22 season.
The one-year deal, penned in July, was said to be worth £5 million, however that was canned just three days after it began when Norwich – finally doing some due diligence – found that BK8 used sexually suggestive images and marketing material that did not echo the sentiments of a football club that prides itself on being family-friendly and a key part of the local community.
Not to worry though, because it seems Spanish La Liga clubs aren’t concerned about things like that – a staggering FIVE of them have signed on the dotted line to be sponsored by BK8.
After a law change, gambling sponsorships are banned in Spain, however La Liga clubs have been given dispensation to sign deals with overseas operators that target casino gamers and bettors outside of the country.
And so Valencia, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Mallorca and Elche have agreed to be sponsored by BK8, in return for the clubs promoting the betting firm via their Asian-facing social media channels. They will also enjoy ‘virtual perimeter advertising’ privileges as part of the link-up when those sides have their games broadcast in Asian countries.
BK8’s managing director for Europe, Michael Gatt, said:
“We are very ambitious, and to have joined forces with some of Spain’s leading clubs shows the determination we have to be able to address some of the work we want to do moving forward.”
Feathers Well and Truly Ruffled
There has been a whole raft of betting firms sponsoring Premier League clubs in recent years.
So when Norwich announced their deal with BK8, initially few batted an eyelid – this was very much business as usual.
But it soon became apparent that BK8 were willing to be, shall we say, near the knuckle in the promotion of their online casino and sportsbook, and images of women in little clothes performing sexually-suggestive challenges is not exactly what the Canaries had in mind.
BK8, who list John Terry as a former brand ambassador, are headquartered in Malta, licensed in Curacao and have, so far, targeted largely Asian audiences.
The £5 million contract with Norwich was set to be their big break into the European market….at three days, it must be one of the shortest sponsorship deals in the history of sport.
With feathers flying, a statement from the Canaries read:
“The club and BK8 have taken on board feedback from its supporters and partners, and after continued discussions we have agreed to immediately end the partnership.
“Whilst we anticipated some negative responses to the announcement of the partnership with a betting company, the club understands the reaction to BK8, their affiliates and other similar brands’ ways of marketing, the values of which do not align with those of the football club.
“On this occasion, we got it wrong. For that, and any offence caused, the club apologises.”