Campaign Teardown

How Influencer Marketing Helped the DraftKings Ad Explode

By Editorial Staff

In early 2017, DraftKings ad conducted quantitative and qualitative research to determine the health of its brand, identify perceptions that needed to be addressed and confirm the drivers and barriers to playing its games. This research uncovered that there are primarily two kinds of football fans: those who prefer to sit back and watch and then others who lean in and participate in the game they love by playing fantasy football. Fantasy players are genuinely competitive, and love to be as close to the sport as possible by following stat trends on the leagues top players performance — but they were unaware of DraftKings’ product offering and how it stacked up against season-long — particularly when it came to remedying the pain points that they experience during the fantasy season.

DraftKings’ overall goal was to grow its business by targeting traditional, season-long fantasy players who had not yet tried daily fantasy sports, as well as avid sports fans during the entire NFL season. 

For the 2017 NFL season, DraftKings ad turned to their research and developed a creative solution that highlighted the deficiencies of season-long fantasy and reinforced how DraftKings offered a premier experience. This was brought to life through a spokesperson/character called Dr. Aftkings, a fantasy doctor, who prescribed DraftKings as the antidote to the maladies of season-long fantasy sports. Creative reinforced awareness of DraftKings ad and its product offerings demonstrated to customers how to play, and drove app downloads and conversions throughout the entire season.


SMACK FIRE CHALLENGE @draftkings #draftkings #makeitreign #touchdowndance #imasmackfire

♬ Make It Reign by DraftKings – DraftKings

In addition to activating Dr. Aftkings, DraftKings also found 50 unique influencers across TikTok and activated them during the start of the NFL season, creating a total reach of over 66 million on the platform. They were able to find an eclectic roster, activating a diverse range of young adult male and female creators from dancers, comedians, firefighters, international trick-shotters, and more. Each influencer selected had over 80% of their audience within DraftKings’ ad target market. Selecting a wide variety of influencers that simultaneously fit DraftKings’ ad target audience showcased their versatility and heightened the organic feel of the campaign.

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The influencers had an incredible time bringing the creative concept “create your own touchdown dance” to life. Each one channeled their inner football player and paired their touchdown dance with an original licensed song designed for DraftKings and the hashtags #MakeItReign and #Touchdowndance. Implementing hashtags, a dance, and an original song leveraged the platform for what it’s known for and in turn received phenomenal engagement from the audience.

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The #MakeItReign campaign enabled DraftKings to build a 50+ influencer base to work and engage with in the future. Through influencer partnerships, DraftKings was able to gain nearly 8 million impressions from TikTok alone.


Day 40 The #TouchdownDance Challenge. Comment to vote who had the best dance! @draftkings #makeitreign #draftkings #ad

♬ original sound – AlexPresley

COO and co-founder Paul Liberman said that aligning itself with influencers in the sports community was a big part of its brand strategy. DraftKings now has a deal with the MLB, Nascar, the NHL, UFC and the MLS.

“That brings our brands to the masses in a way that’s trustworthy because people know that the MLB will provide a great product,” said Liberman. Trust, he said, is especially important in fantasy sports, where people hand over credit card info and play for real cash. (Fantasy sports is not illegal unlike other sports betting — it is considered a “skill game,” although critics say that the line is not so clear, one possible pain point for a brand like DraftKings.)

Nevertheless, DraftKings’ marketing over the past 2 years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Between Dr. Aftking and their armada of sports influencers, DraftKings was able to rebrand themselves while gaining massive popularity from both sides of sports fans (active bettors and watchers). Any companies out there considering the power of influencer marketing should review DraftKings recent marketing campaigns.

We have plenty more successful campaigns to study. Check out our case studies here to learn directly from viral marketing examples.

This article was written by Sawyer Cairns

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