- Sports betting platform FanDuel is using deepfake technology to bring a former NBA player back to his prime in anticipation of the NBA playoffs, according to a press release.
- The “Think Like a Player” campaign features a deepfake-generated version of Charles Barkley from the 1990s, when he was at the height of his ability. “Young Chuck” will encourage FanDuel customers to “think like a player” when placing their bets.
- The spots will air during the play-in tournament and throughout the conference finals, with the final ad going live during finals, and accompany a special sign-up offer to encourage betting during the playoffs.
FanDuel, the official sports betting partner of the NBA, is leaning into nostalgia in order to make itself a key part of the basketball league’s playoffs. After a massive football season for sports betting platforms, FanDuel is looking to keep the ball rolling with a new campaign featuring analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley. The new spots make use of deepfake technology to callback to the prime of Barkley’s career in order to promote a special offer for new users and show off the platform’s special features.
"We're excited to tap into the energy of the NBA playoffs as well as the fanhood for Charles," said FanDuel's executive vice president of marketing, Andrew Sneyd, in a press release. "This campaign will not only cement FanDuel's place in the conversation of brands that are adding to the sports experience but continue to give us the opportunity to flex our creative muscle and demonstrate how we're reaching our target audience in unique ways."
In a thirty-second promo video, the current version of Barkley is explaining how to use the app, with some options for the NBA playoffs. He mentions how he wished he would have been able to bet on his favorite player — a younger version of himself, who marvels at how old Barkley is now and where he lives. Utilizing Barkley, a notorious gambler, as a spokesperson allows FanDuel to engage with basketball fanatics in an authentic way.
The use of deepfake technology has driven controversy in recent years. While the tech has been used by marketers such as Old Spice to create nostalgia-driven content, it's not without its pitfalls. The technology has been used to push disinformation as well as spread deepfake pornography, which can star any woman, with or without their consent, if enough images of them are available online.
The sports betting platform has found financial success in recent years. In 2022, FanDuel became the first U.S. sportsbook to turn a profit during a single quarter, closing out Q2 of 2022 with $22 million in earnings. With a 42% share of the U.S. betting market as of November 2022, the company expects to have a revenue of $15 billion in the long term, according to FanDuel’s parent company Flutter.
The company also aired its first Super Bowl commercial this year, featuring five-time NFL Pro Bowler Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski, who attempted to make a 25-yard field goal in order to win FanDuel users a cash prize.