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Fanatics Betting & Gaming has tapped an ex-Gucci senior vice president to serve as its chief marketing officer (CMO).

In her new position, Selena Kalvaria will lead brand development and have oversight over all content, media, creative and communications efforts of a 40-strong team.

The executive assumes the role left by ex-MTV chief marketing officer Jason White, who exited Fanatics in September 2023.

Kalvaria joins the challenger brand after three years at the Kering-owned fashion business, leaving as senior vice president of brand and client engagement at Gucci Americas.

In this role, she was responsible for Gucci’s brand strategy and full-funnel execution in both North and South America across its marketing, communications and private client functions.

Prior to this, Kalvaria worked at baggage brand Away in several marketing-related roles.

This came after she achieved a BA from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Fanatics to lean into sports brand identity

Kalvaria told the Wall Street Journal that Fanatics intends to lean into its position as a well-known sports brand for its future marketing plans.

This could include, she said, integrating athletes, commentators, teams and leagues into its campaigns going forward.

The effort to lean into its sports identity, a strategy articulated in the past by CEO Matt King, has been compared in its conception to Penn Entertainment’s media-led gaming strategy.

However, King has also argued the importance of product in the past, claiming that this is an area in which Fanatics could work to beat the market leaders.

Kalvaria assumes her new role at a time of flux for US online sports betting marketing.

The post-PASPA repeal years were characterised by a race to market and high-spend marketing wars for customer acquisition.

However, this has been replaced over the last year with a stricter focus on customer retention and profitability.

According to Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, Fanatics had a 2.9% US market share as of April 2024, with the market still dominated by the two traditional DFS giants DraftKings and FanDuel.

As such, customer acquisition will no doubt have to play a big role if it is to achieve its stated ambition of achieving a podium position in US sports betting.

There have also been rumours Fanatics will pursue a VIP-led strategy, following the appointment of DraftKings’ former head of VIP Michael Hermalyn.

The company received a market share of 23.5% in New Jersey in April 2024, thought to be driven by a single high-value customer.  

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