Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the world’s best football talents and regarded as Sweden’s all-time greatest. His physical presence oozes a winner’s attitude, mixed with a unique swagger that makes him special both on and off the pitch.
Swedish-owned betting company Bethard has the same winning mentality and ‘dare to do’ slogan. The ambitions gaming company today announced it had partnered with Zlatan, an alliance that founder Erik Skarp believes will drive the company to the next level as a force in the global sports betting industry.
The company believes that great things start with a great team spirit, a tight group that shares fun experiences, helping inspire creativity and leading to bolder business decisions. This formula has worked very well for the brand, producing a unique team culture and helped Bethard win ‘Great Place to Work’ at the 2018 International Gaming Awards. Zlatan is undoubtedly someone who can boost team spirit with his winning mentality.
“Today there are hundreds of ambassadors for different gaming companies, which means it’s hard to differentiate which person is associated with a brand. We wanted to do something different, by not following the crowd and wanting to find the perfect match for our brand. There was only one stand-out individual we considered to be the world’s biggest winner, who at the same time shares the story and the journey we see before us. One who dared take the challenge and that was Zlatan,” Skarp explained.
Zlatan is a desirable ambassador for almost any company and isn’t the easiest person to convince. Ibrahimović has a history of turning down partnerships and only does what Zlatan wants to do. So how did Bethard manage to secure one of the best deals witnessed in the gaming industry and what is the secret behind such a successful acquisition?
”The partnership with Zlatan is not all about money, and I believe it’s about the way we approached him, the Bethard way, the people, our mindset and our aspirations. That’s where I think we managed to create a mutual interest, even though Bethard was unknown to him at the start.
When Zlatan heard about our winners dare more attitude, he instantly wanted to learn more about our story and our vision. He can associate with our story, and I think that was key in the discussion.
Zlatan wants to protect his brand and has extremely high expectations when he steps into something. That’s why gaming companies have not succeeded in the past. It is not just about money. Money has had this industry for 20 years.
The reason brands have failed in the past was because there was no spark or exciting journey, something that is more important to Zlatan than money.
Skarp recalls how Zlatan reacted after joining the Bethard team. “I used to win, I won a lot. I’m looking forward to winning with you at Bethard. Bethard is the only betting company that managed to catch my attention. You want to know why? Because I share the idea that winners dare more”.
The initial discussion took place in Manchester, where Zlatan was on the sidelines recovering from a serious knee injury. Skarp met him for the first time in a very emotional meeting, a huge fan of both Zlatan and Malmö FF, where he made his name as a teenager.
”I’m a faithful Malmö FF supporter who has followed Zlatan for almost 20 years. I had seen him so many times on television, read his book and somehow felt that I had a strange relationship with him. Once the door opened, and he was right in front of me, my feelings can’t be put into words. It felt special.”
The Perfect Partnership
Zlatan has a reputation for being arrogant and self-important, but Skarp would disagree, and the man he met was sympathetic, humble and easy to deal with.
”He has a lot of respect for other people and appreciates that people meeting him for the first time might feel intimidated. He did everything he could to make me feel comfortable, and this helped the discussions flow. We spent a long time talking about life in general, being a parent, and living as a foreigner in another country, something we both have in common. We had an hour booked, but this turned into five hours. There was a connection, and it was an awesome experience.
The partnership is something long-term and more than just a signature. Bethard has big plans for the future and Zlatan Ibrahimović will be integral to Bethard’s future, more than a celebrity sponsor, someone who will help grow the company into a force to be reckoned with.
”Zlatan is our partner and provided that we do great things together it will hopefully last forever. He is not our poster boy, but he will be with us and develop the company, above all, into a brand that people want to associate with.”
Skarp explains that Zlatan only wants to be associated with quality ideas and production, which led to discussions with renowned comedian and film director Felix Herngren. Skarp explains that the future of Bethard’s brand will be less serious and softer.
“Bethard is perceived as being tough and extreme, which is understandable, and something we have contributed to with past ties to MMA and extreme sports. We feel it’s time to take a real step towards the middle, being less serious in our marketing.
Zlatan expects high-quality, and we respect that. We reached out to Felix Herngren’s production company and created a great new concept together. Our new campaign featuring Zlatan to reflect softer and more comical brand image.
Our ambition is to build a leading sports betting company and everything else is secondary. Sports betting and winning is in our DNA, and that’s precisely what Zlatan wants to be associated with.
“We wanted to create a dialogue between Zlatan and someone else, not just having Zlatan tensing his muscles for us and being happy with that. We have developed some nice contrasts with Dragomir Mrsic and have some exciting plans.”
Bethard is currently active in Sweden Norway and Finland. The ambitious company has plans to expand into other leading markets, with the British and Danish markets on the horizon.
”We are really happy to have finally announced Zlatan publicly. Leading up to the launch we received a lot of media coverage and this just shows how popular Zlatan is across the world, being injured for the best part of 14 months and the slightest speculation gets so much media attention.
We want to compete with the big betting companies. It will take time, but we are well equipped, and we will take the fight to them. It’s incredible to have a winner like Zlatan on our side, he’s from the same school and has the same mindset, working alongside us on our journey to the top.
More New Horizons
- Zlatan has recently joined LA Galaxy, a MLS team that has attracted some of the best footballing greats who are on the verge of hanging up their boots. Legends like Steven Gerrard and David Beckham previously made the move and played a part in convincing Zlatan to move to the City of Angels.
“Our partnership is built around Zlatan’s career after football. We have no idea when he will retire and he probably doesn’t know himself. We might gain more engagement if Zlatan stops playing football, but we also love watching such a talented player on the pitch.”
Zlatan has a massive following on social media and perfect for any brand to reach a large audience, but Skarp wants to use his reach to deliver create quality content.
“We will be using Zlatan’s huge social media following, but brands must earn the right to be there and I respect that. Zlatan doesn’t want to be associated with something that is not thoughtful, which is not smart and low-quality. He is extremely committed to his own brand, which means we need to perform when working with him to create something great and I’m confident we can do this.”
When asked how much Zlatan is paid, Skarp swiftly replies, saying he is one of the strongest brands in the world, that “nobody else can compare!”
But what is the cost we ask again? “Zlatan only deserves the best deal!” he replies.
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