Friday, June 04, 2010

Victory Poker CEO Responds to Ad Campaign Criticism

It's not sexism, ladies. It's "just marketing"

After Liv Boeree, Annie Duke, and Vanessa Selbst all took down major tournament titles earlier this year, the Entities at Wicked Chops Poker proclaimed 2010 "The Year of the Woman" and in their latest podcast, they speak with two of the more prominent ladies in the game-- newly minted EPT champion Boeree and Lacey Jones, who seems to be filling her resume with more and more poker television hosting gigs every week. Their third guest, however, was Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman. As you all know by now, I'm not too happy with their marketing campaign and Fleyshman responded to the criticism lobbied at him not only by myself, but several others in the poker blogosphere.

Here is Fleyshman's response, which comes around the 15-minute mark in Episode 3 of the Wicked Chops Podcast

"I was pretty shocked. I mean, like everybody uses models in their campaigns and I think I did a pretty classy job of it. I used Playboy Playmates and I also used traditional models as well, from different countries. But I also used guys. Like, you know what I did? I did like, a strip poker photo shoot last week-- the guys were the ones topless in a lot of the shots and the girls were the ones winning the game. So for everybody to say, like, I don't know, to feel sexist in a way is like, weird to me because my very first charity event, I donated money to breast cancer. I sponsor the LIPS poker tour. I'm sponsoring the womens' events. Like, I'm involved on both sides of this. So it's just marketing. Like, i have to do everything. I'm not just focusing on models and I'm not just focusing on guys. I'm trying to do everything. So it was very shocking. That's why, if you've noticed, on the internet I'm defending myself a lot because I'm not sexist."

Fleyshman goes on to talk about how he's spending every weekend teaching Playboy Playmate Sara Underwood how to play poker, which I'm sure is a huge personal sacrifice.

"It does feel weird to me, because we're so open-minded and we're so across the board so it's weird that so many people would feel we're sexist," Fleyshman said.

Sorry buddy, but any way you slice it, there's nothing "across the board" when it comes to those ads. "Across the board," at least in my interpretation, would mean appealing to a broad demographic. I don't see how any of the images currently put forth by Victory Poker appeal anyone other than young men who enjoy looking at photos of surgically enhanced models.

Victory Poker's message is pretty clear. And in my opinion, "but I donated money to breast cancer" and "it's just marketing" constitutes a pretty weak-sauce response. Instead of teaching Playmates how to play poker, how about sponsoring some professional female players instead? Concerned about "marketing" and "image" and don't want to have someone (gulp) unattractive in your ads? How about putting a drop-dead gorgeous woman like Christina Lindley, Maria Ho or Lauren Kling on your team instead of relying on provocatively dressed models to sell your product?

And I'm sorry Mr. Fleyshman, but you're wrong. Not everyone uses models. Bodog tried that circa 2005 (as some readers pointed out in the comments after my last post) and look at their market share today If you want to head down that road, well, that's where it ends.


Spaceman said...

Like, I totally don't, like, understand why, like, you're, like upset. Like, this guy totally, like, sounds like he, like, REALLY totally cares about, like, chicks and stuff.

Yet another confirmation that communication skills are not a prerequisite to wealth.

Dantana said...

i gotta give fleyshman at least some credit on the charity component, not because raising money for breast cancer makes everything ok, but because if you are going to call him out for that, why not call out all of poker for believing just because they give shitloads to charity, it makes everything they may or may not do OK?

(did you know the porn industry has their own version of Ante Up for Africa? it's called ClitorAid.)

bottom line is that the market will speak. if online poker geek baller-wannabes eat it up, then Fleyshman's take and assertion of non-sexism has validity ... and maybe your beef should be with young 20something men in general (and perhaps the young 20something ladies who contribute to their outlook).

and if it doesn't sell -- as you imply about bodog -- then maybe he'll reconsider your points on his next venture.

however, calvin ayre at that pont might contend what's wrong with being #18 when you're a billionaire? all those non-sexists in the top-5 are just a bunch of greedy bastards looking to oppress the people of Asia.

girlpower said...

WOW-- You do not seemed to have the ability to be objective. Have you looked at all victory poker ads? The one on Pokerroad? The women are playing in the Pokeroad ad. I guess that does not fit your point so ignoring helps. Maybe Victory is targeting all demographics? You think? Your post seems like that of a bitter woman.

I guess you do not attack the giants, pokerstars and full tilt, because of your working relationship or hopes for a working relationship. Why can't you state your argument without being petty. Teaching Ms. Underwood to play poker, if successful, has a lot bigger marketing potential than hiring Ho or Lindley. ( Teaching a steortypical blonde to win at poker. ) You do realize the motto of the site is we will show you how? Interestly, you suggest a couple of players who are known for activities outside of poker. What major tournaments have they won? Do not get me wrong, they are excellent players.

It is laughable you state you friends, I mean poker peers agree with you. I am happy that your boyfriend and his/your friends are supporting you. That is what friends do. It is what the public thinks not your writer friends.

Lastly, I really laughed at bodog tried this comment. I mean surely if someone tried it and failed then it defintely can't be done. I guess you learned that while earning your marketing degree. I am sorry to be petty but it seems to be your chosen witing style

change100 said...

Mr. Fleyshman, is that you?

In response:

"You do not seemed to have the ability to be objective."

I do seem to have the ability to write in proper English, however. This is also not about objectivity. It is about my personal opinion.

"The women are playing in the Pokeroad ad. I guess that does not fit your point so ignoring helps."

I'm not ignoring anything, I'm taking about the overall theme of the campaign. And I didn't even address the worst of it. I just watched the "Poker Models" video that is up on your site which borders on soft-core pornography.

"I guess you do not attack the giants, pokerstars and full tilt, because of your working relationship or hopes for a working relationship."

It is no secret that I do freelance work for PokerStars. There's a little hyperlink right there at the top of the page under "Where I Write." One of the many reasons I respect the people at PokerStars (and Full Tilt as well) is that unlike Victory, they have never needed or wanted to stoop to the lowest common denominator to sell their product. Sex sells, but it's the easy, lazy way out.

"It is laughable you state you friends, I mean poker peers agree with you."

In that context, I was referring to the other articles that have been written on this subject, notably by Poker Grump and Jennifer Shahade.

"It is what the public thinks not your writer friends."

My "writer friends" are overwhelmingly male and all online poker players. Your targeted demo, no?

"I am sorry to be petty but it seems to be your chosen witing style"

–adjective, -ti·er, -ti·est.
of little or no importance or consequence: petty grievances.
of lesser or secondary importance, merit, etc.; minor: petty considerations.
having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.: petty minds.
mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: a petty person.
showing or caused by meanness of spirit: a petty revenge.
of secondary rank, esp. in relation to others of the same class or kind: petty states; a petty tyrant.

Definitions 1 and 2 seem to exemplify what Victory Poker thinks of women. For my writing style look under "snark."

girlpower said...

I wave the white flag Ms. Snark--
I apologize for not having an english degree. I crunch numbers for a living. I believe in and support women causes. I just wish they would be championed in a positive way. It seems that a freelance reporter with a working relationship with pokerstars, would feel obligated to include the whole story when expressing thoughts on a blog. I do appreciate the acknowledgement that your opinion is not objective.

It was a petty question to ask if I was Mr. Fleyshman. According to your helpful defition, I am using petty correctly! It is extremely unprofessional to imply the CEO would be responding to your blog post. I would call that definition #5. You should have given him a chance to respoind before ever making any blog post. The use of your throughout your response seems to imply I am the CEO. I am not! I hope you will establish you do not know whether I am the him or not.

I would like to acknowledge I completely agree with the sentiment of your opinion. It is the freakin' year of the woman for crying out loud. I just took offense with you insulting women while standing up for them. Why did you insult the woman on Robl's lap. If you find the time to answer this I would appreciate it. If not I still wish you the best of success.

Trisha Lynn said...

@girlpower: I just wish they would be championed in a positive way.

Funny, that's what Change100 wants, too!

I really don't see where Change100 "insulted women" with her original post, particularly the women in the print/online ad:

She wrote: The one in the middle that looks like that plastic surgery chick from The Hills is confined to Andrew Robl's lap.

If you read a little more carefully, Change100 is saying that the woman seated on Andrew Robl's lap looks like some woman on The Hills--not that she's a woman who needs plastic surgery. Considering that I don't watch that show, I have no idea what kind of comment that is on her appearance, but it's most definitely not an out-and-out insult.

If Victory wanted to target all demographics as you claim, perhaps a better ad would have been to have pros of both genders seated at the table with that appropriate eye candy scattered all around, and with no one seated on someone else as if they were nothing more than a toy poodle or something like that.

Full disclosure: I've written for Change100's boyfriend before, but have yet to be cronies with her.

girlpower said...

Trisha Lynn -- thanks for your feedback. I will acknowledge, I need all the reading comprehension help I can get. But comparing someone to Heidi Montag is not a positive way of champion women. It is an insult. You are comparing someone to a punchline in thousand of jokes. Is it a compliment to be compared to a woman whose body seems to be 90%plastic? I am hoping Change100 will address this. Maybe she can address this while explaining how Pokerstars putting a picture of Vanessa "Lady Maverick" Russo in the swimsuit edition is not sexist. I guess that ad was exploiting her poker skills! I will look through the archives and see if Pokerstars took a similar bashing-- surely the championing of women's causes does not take a "backseat" to professional relationships.

Unknown said...

I really don't see how anyone can intelligently argue that the ads that Change100 has used as examples are not blatantly sexist. The women in them are portrayed as nothing more than ornaments. The context fairly screams "Join Victory poker and you too can have airbrushed, surgically enhanced bimbos draped all over you. After all, women are nothing more than the just rewards of success." And i am sorry, but the argument that other ads by victory poker are not sexist has NO bearing on whether the ones Change100 is taking issue with are.

Micah Seymour said...

Someone used sex to appeal to a market dominated by men??? OMG NO WAI SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET!!!

No wait, that's a classic advertising strategy used by well er... everyone. The pot leaves covering teh boobies at the top of this post is not at all intended to grab eyes, I imagine. That's not at all using titillation (ya had to sorry) to sell this blog, nope... not at all. Hell, before I thought of this as Change100's blog, I thought of it as "the poker blog with the reefer and tits logo".

Oh derf, Victory Poker is paying you. Duh. LOL a site I never would have heard of has hired you to reverse guerilla market them. Now I have heard of them... pr mission accomplished. (just kidding about that of course)

I dig your writing and tournament reporting, but you're making a mountain out of a coupla silicon mole hills here.

jerome said...
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The Seventh Shark said...

I don't like the adverts and I'm a male poker player.

For me if anything while it objectifies women it makes poker less classier.

If scantily clad women is all sleazeball execs can think of I don't think they deserve creative positions.

satta matka number said...
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