For many years now retail bingo has been trying to shake the image of the blue rinse brigade. If you visit your local club you’ll find a more younger demographic in attendance than you might expect and Gala Leisure are hopeful that this becomes the norm as Gala rebrands to Buzz Bingo!
The new branding for the high street venues is part of a £40 million investment that Gala Leisure are putting into their bingo halls over the next couple of years. Gala Leisure was purchased by Caledonia Venus Acquisitions in December 2015.
Up and down the country we have seen Gala Bingo clubs rebranded with the focus being on re-energising local communities. Buzz Bingo quite simply hopes to put the ‘buzz’ and appeal back into the offline game but is it the new name that is going to achieve this? There is even a new strapline for the brand ‘Play together, anywhere’ – but isn’t that what mobile bingo has already achieved?
Over the years we have seen many retail bingo chains try and attract a younger audience by putting on a variety of different ‘specials’. These have included an extension on opening times; live acts and some have even created areas where the lively crowd is not going to be shhhh’d by the older generation when they are talking during a game.
So, the question is, is it the rebrand as Buzz Bingo that is going to get the buzz back, or has it been the slow burn of the changes that have been implemented over a number of years?
Getting A Community Buzzing For Bingo
There’s no denying that the bingo halls have suffered a decline in numbers since the introduction of the smoking ban in July 2007. This further exacerbated the dwindling numbers seen as online bingo became more popular and more sites launched on the Internet.
Retail bingo clubs responded by building smoking shelters and of course, smokers used e-cigarettes. However, in 2009 Gala Bingo banned the use of them in their buildings.
Another factor in the drop in numbers were decreasing jackpot values, something that was bound to happen when player numbers drop.
So what does Buzz Bingo plan to do to get the community buzzing for bingo again when none of these factors have changed?
The CEO of Buzz Bingo, Chris Matthews, is reported to have said
“Our customers really enjoy their time with us and there is nowhere else you can go, to enjoy the combination of meeting up with friends, old and new, having a laugh with some good food and drink, all with the excitement and sense of anticipation that the game of bingo brings too – all for under £20! Keeping this spirit of community, our customers love, is very important to us as we expand in the future, into the online space and attract a new generation of players.”
Isn’t that similar to what every person tasked with getting more players through the doors of the local bingo club has said?
The players who stopped playing at the clubs are well aware of how cheap the night out is, what the anticipation of winning feels like and the social aspect of bingo – if they haven’t come back yet, they are hardly likely to just because the name has changed.
However, the name Buzz Bingo is something that will likely resonate with the younger audience, an audience that often seeks out an atmosphere of excitement and activity – the very definition of the word.Bingo Back In The Black
Bingo Back In The Black
Gala has seen an increase in revenue of late with figures showing a growth from £284.6m to £360.7m. It has been reported that it was this significant increase in revenue that led Gala Leisure to take the step of rebranding to Buzz Bingo.
But, if the growth was already seen prior to the rebranding, surely that would be indication enough that this was a direct result of the other changes that had been implemented in an effort to attract the 18 to 25-year-olds.
It would seem that the onus to make Buzz Bingo achieve its goal is on the media agency, Goodstuff and creative agency, Isobel, to really sell the rebrand to the playing public. From all that has been published so far about the name change, it really does seem as though all that will be changing is the name.
Gameplay, experience, and value for money in the clubs looks to be staying the same so would it not have been better to plough the money spent on a rebrand into other areas?
A Look At Buzz Bingo Online
As of June 2018, there were just two venues that had undergone the transformation from Gala to Buzz Bingo – Castleford in West Yorkshire and the Peterborough club. A visit to their Facebook pages and a look through the photos that had been posted revealed that, much like a new look online bingo site, the venues have just had a lick of paint and have a new logo. They still look like Gala Bingo clubs….
A visit to the Buzz Bingo web page and a scan through the ‘Bingo’ page showed that actually, very little appears to have changed when it comes to the main bingo session. Jackpots are not improved and there’s not a mention of the National Game – one of the best selling points of bingo offline.
It’s hard to see where the ‘buzz’ from Buzz Bingo is meant to be coming from, currently, it seems like a very dull hum. That’s not to say it won’t become more over time but at the moment, it’s not what was expected at all.