Did the WSOP Mess With Sasquatch?

by Lou on January 10, 2010

While the World Series of Poker has been an unbridled success by anyone’s measure of growth during the years Jeffrey Pollack was at its helm, one area where it missed the target completely occurred during the time between mid-July and November—the months after the main event was played down to nine remaining contestants, and the televised finale in near real time on ESPN.

The idea of a three-month delay between setting the final table and playing it down to determine a winner was always to build momentum for the grand finale, while allowing ESPN to run through its backlog of televised WSOP footage so that the main event was played to its conclusion just as TV’s coverage led up to it. But little momentum was built up during those intervening 100 days between July and November, and almost nothing was done to turn those nine finalists into household names by the time the main event was televised. The general public—or more precisely the TV audience that is not made up of real poker junkies like us, but instead comprises more casual poker players and fans—didn’t know much more about the nine finalists in November than they did in July.

And the 900 pound gorilla in the room is one big question: Why was the WSOP unable to convince its advertising partners to feature some of these nine finalists in a series of commercials leading up to the November finale? After all, advertisers would also profit if more people could identify with the finalists and presumably be more apt to tune into the WSOP’s near real time telecast of the final table.

It’s easy to imagine Jack Links Beef Jerky, for example, in any number of commercial tie-ins. As perhaps the most visible of the WSOP’s advertising partners, why didn’t they produce a commercial with real-life logger Darvin Moon cutting trees in a forest and having a run-in with Sasquatch? They could have carried their Messing with Sasquatch theme further, by having all of the November Nine playing poker in the forest and inviting Sasquatch to sit in as the game’s tenth player. There’s probably no end to the commercials Jack Links could have generated to boost interest in their beef jerky, the upcoming final table, and in members of the November Nine themselves.

It’s all consistent with their advertising campaign, and would have put the upcoming WSOP final table firmly in the minds of even the most casual TV viewers.

The fact that the WSOP was unable to convince any of their advertising partners to build campaigns around the main event’s finale in that three-month window between July and November suggests a massive failure somewhere.

I have no idea whether this is the reason Jeffrey Pollack is no longer at the WSOP’s helm; I’m simply not privy to that kind of insider information. But I am sure that the idea of creating tie-ins between the WSOP and their ad partners had to be an idea that surfaced time and time again, and I’m curious as to why it was never brought to fruition.

If anyone knows more about this than I do, just send me a note.

{ 2 comments }

PokerLaz January 11, 2010 at 7:59 pm

I completely agree.

Absolutely no point in having a 3 month break (which itself partially undermines the credibility of the tournament) if it's not going to be used to enhance the event.

Poker Businessman January 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm

I prefer the good old days of the finals immediately following the preceding days. That three month delay is very annoying. If I ever make the final table, I want it immediately.

The multi-month delay is a failed experiment.

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