Verse 5: So, I went to Calvin Ayre’s party last night. I hated the fact that I had to queue for half an hour, I immensely resented the fact ‘VIPS’ managed to queue jump (surely that was envy?), I found the creative interpretations of the seven deadly sins to be pretty damn bland, with the exception of the half naked fat guys gnoshing raw meet off each other’s torsos whilst a butcher provided them with fresh produce, I felt the whole thing was altogether a stage managed production than a party. I just didn’t get the vibe and I have to rank it as one of the worst parties I’ve had the privilege of attending in online gaming over the past 6 years.
But here’s the thing. First off, my shock levels are obviously disturbingly high. Secondly, I’m an ungrateful son of a bitch as Mr Ayre provided me with free alcohol for 3 hours or so and something to blog about. The very fact that I hated the party is what was brilliant about it and what is brilliant about Calvin Ayre and his Bodog brand.
After I’d made the decision to leave, rounded up a few of my nearest and dearest in iGaming and headed over to a more traditional party (Grey Goose and Moet on tap – thanks William Hill), I managed to share my thoughts to Calvin’s lawyer and Bodog’s Director of Products. I told them that the party wasn’t for me, that I didn’t get it and that I thought Calvin was an egotistical prick. That last bit was the Grey Goose squawking, but it made my point very nicely.
Now, these two fellas were good guys, typically gaming, typically defending their boss and the company that pays their wages. But that shouldn’t happen at Bodog. I spent the next hour or two telling them precisely why they shouldn’t be trying to make me see sense that it was a great party. What makes Calvin Ayre and Bodog so important to iGaming is not the fat naked guys, the pole-dancers, the bondage sessions, the wankers who get in the VIP area or queue jump, or even the deformed dwarves. It’s the fact that I hated it and some people loved it.
Imagine if all those mugs who had queued alongside me had been registered players and that party dictated whether they played at Bodog or not… Once we were finally let into the hype-filled freak show, most would have left straight away without spending a penny even with a no-deposit bonus of a free bar. 5 or 10 percent would have loved it and now believe that Calvin Ayre can walk on water. They would have dropped a grand in no time flat. Hell, they’d probably even be blogging about it with some affiliate links in there for good measure.
As a result, the party I’ve disliked most in online gambling is also the most important. I left it for another run of the mill booze fest courtesy of William Hill and a decent club. I’ve woken up wearing Eau de Grey Goose and it feels like just another conference day. Before reaching this all-too-familiar ignominy, I told the guys at Bodog what I thought of their attempts to sell the Calvin party to me. In a nutshell, I told them that they shouldn’t be working at Bodog if they took the viewpoint that everyone has to like something they do. That’s iGaming’s biggest problem – every operation tries to please everyone. They take what other companies do, copy it, take a small margin, cannibalise the industry, bore players and revel in it beyond belief as they down their Grey Goose.
So, hats off to Calvin Ayre and Bodog for differentiating on their brand. Your product is run of the mill along with 95% of the gambling operations, but every Tom, Dick and Harry has an opinion on your party, was prepared to queue in the rain for an hour and look like a tit, and write a blog post about it and this makes your brand special. It shows that extremes attract some people and that picks out Bodog’s well-deserved share of the market. Everyone else sits on their “evolutionary”, “state of the art” can’t-tell-the-difference-software-suites, let’s-all-go-for-the-same-players-and-pay-stupid-CPAs-to-acquire-them pedestals, all the while not sparing a moment to realise they are all drinking and smelling of the same brand of vodka. Good on you Calvin. For as long as you can stay out of jail, keep on carryin’ on.
(Please forgive any grammatical or spelling mistakes here. I am inebriated courtesy of Grey Goose. Maybe I should have shares there…)