These days, PokerStars doesn’t need as much help in the branding department, given that anybody who googles “online poker” will find them on the front page. Furthermore, their reputation and player base dwarf the rest of the market. But like all companies, they were once a little-known brand looking to establish themselves against larger competitors.
However, while PokerStars was short on name recognition in the early 2000s, they were certainly not short on money. Through a very interesting blog post, marketer and poker player Dan Goldman explains his experiences with Stars. Some of the interesting topics that he covers in his blog post include how well-funded Isai Scheinberg’s company was in the beginning, Goldman’s strong belief in Chris Moneymaker and Ben Affleck’s insane demands.
First off, Goldman created a marketing budget for Stars’ first year and told Scheinberg that he’d need $600,000 for year one. Without hesitating, Scheinberg quickly said, “We have the money we need to properly launch this company.”
Goldman also convinced the PokerStars boss that they should invest $30,000 per month in six billboards around the L.A. area. The billboards (see right), featured Chris Moneymaker and read, “How he became a Moneymaker. PokerStars.com – Where Poker Players become World Champions.” Scheinberg needed some convincing, instead thinking their money would best be spent on direct response ads, but he eventually caved. And the billboards actually became a huge success.
As for Affleck, Scheinberg wanted Goldman to get him on a cruise ship where Stars would be sponsoring a World Poker Tour event. Initially, Affleck wanted a $1 million appearance fee, which Scheinberg had no trouble with. However, his list of demands grew to the point where he needed to be flown onto the ship, which would require a special permit from Homeland Security. They couldn’t get the permit so, much to Goldman’s relief, the Affleck thing fizzled out and he didn’t have to spend $1.4 million total (or more) on the movie star.
Anyways, the entire post is quite good and there are more stories from Goldman in the blog.