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An Unexpected Twist: How Parimatch Rebuilt Its Advertising Campaign on the Fly Because of the Pandemic


With the advertising campaign Zaruba! (loosely translated as “rumble”) as our example, let's look at how the pandemic helped redefine football marketing to match the gambling market's changing trends in gamification. The creative director of Parimatch HQ, Ekaterina Amirkhanova, gives us the lowdown.

From Euro 2020 to a Simple Game: The Changing Face of an Advertising Campaign

Parimatch is always preparing for important sporting tournaments. In 2020, football fans were eagerly awaiting one of the world's largest footballing eventsthe UEFA European Championship. At Parimatch, we designed Zaruba! an advertising campaign for Euro 2020. Zaruba! was a continuation of the Parimatch Epic Battle's theme, which compares football with the futuristic battles on post-apocalyptic planet earth.

Filming the video was serious training:

  • Producers with extensive cinematic experience
  • Hollywood levels of neuromarketing
  • Crowd scenes with the participation of 700 extras
  • Months of post-production plus an original soundtrack from a famous Ukrainian producer The Maneken 

With the video, we prepared material for the full marketing cycle: online and TV promotions, live promotional events at football matches, and other offline actions.

Then came the pandemic and the dramatic turning pointlockdown put normal life on hold. Sport stopped, and it was hard to know which news feeds to release. But one thing was certain: there was nowhere to retreat. It was impossible to just abandon such a massive project.

The way out of the situation was Footboss, a simple session game we’d developed simultaneously as a bonus part of our players' Euro 2020 program.

How to play Footboss: Simply score some penalties!


Footboss Game Concept

The ultimate objective of Footboss is to free ten major soccer stadiums from the grip of invading giants. The game's key character is the coach, whose task is to train his players to take unstoppable penalties and use unconventional tactics for as long as it takes to achieve victory.

At first glance, the game seems simple, but players soon discover multiple ways to deepen and develop their skills with each new session. Thanks to the random distribution of awards and tasks, the journey is unpredictable: different things, like quests and heroes, are always popping up unexpectedly. The game also includes "kinder-type surprises for adults" in the form of loot boxes that contain both real-life and in-game prizes.

Some loot box prizes are very real

Footboss — Gamification of a Classic Betting

We conceived the idea for Footboss as an alternative to the usual boring marketing campaigns and promotional offers. Besides focusing on high odds, bonuses, and competitive margins, we gave players various emotions.

Thanks to Footboss, players returned to Parimatch not only because they wanted to place a bet or check the odds but also to take a break, notch up a couple of wins, and get a prize for it. We deliberately designed Footboss as a session game so that players wouldn’t get stuck playing it for hours but could enjoy a couple of boss fights and get back to work or whatever else they were doing.

Zaruba! Marketing Campaign: A Symbiosis of Football, Gaming, and Betting

As we progressed, we spontaneously integrated the game world into the ready-made concept of a video about football battles. The director made several decisions right there on the set. Bringing the playable characters into a semi-real cinematic world heightened player engagement and gave the commercial concept a whole new angle.

Development game Footboss was made in-house by Parimatch Tech. The game characters make allusion to famous football players, but without breaking any laws: so, for example, the cyber character Terminalaldo might easily be mistaken for a certain real-life Cristiano with a similar name. Also, during the filming, the actors' makeup closely followed the look of the game characters.

Find ten differences


CMO Parimatch Ivan Lyashenko:

As a marketer, my favorite moment is the episode with the giant who looks so much like our brand ambassador, Mike Tyson. This is an example of a product ad that fits perfectly into a creative video concept. The heroes place a bet, then an event occurs, and they immediately receive a prize in the bagsthree seconds of brilliant product placement.

As in the game, betting in the video is more of a bonus than a crucial plot element. Players watch a cool video, play a simple game, and then receive rewards and new emotions if they make a bet — no edification or begging.

The principal task of the Parimatch entertainment platform is to offer a new gaming experience, arouse new emotions, and distract players from everyday issues.

Gamification is the Future of Betting

The Zaruba! story clearly shows that you should always focus on universal solutions when developing marketing campaigns with large budgets.

With large budgets, it's crucial to have a Plan B if things go wrong.

The pandemic pushed more betting online. And where it is online, there is gamification. The world of betting needs fresh experience, and that’s what game mechanics give it.

Gamification of content and game integrations create additional opportunities for players and marketers, giving familiar betting processes an alternative new meaning.

In 2021, gamification will see further growth with marketing impulses from a combination of esports, simple built-in games, jackpots, and loyalty points for in-game events.

The future will always pose new challenges, but thanks to 2020, Parimatch is well-positioned to face them.

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