Despite Pending Lawsuits, DraftKings Hires Janet Holian as Global CMO



New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is not a big fan of fantasy sports gambling sites DraftKings and FanDuel, but the suit the state has filed against the two is on hold as the companies have appealed, the New York Times reports. For the time being, the pair are alive and well on the screens of New Yorkers and sports gambling enthusiasts everywhere. New York is not alone—lawsuits have been filed in many other states as well.

Dealing with the controversy, DraftKings has hired Janet Holian as its new global chief marketing officer—she has been acting CMO since August and worked with the executive team—Jason Robins, Matt Kalish and Paul Liberman—since the site launched in 2012. Holian was previously CEO of Gemvara, an online retailer of custom-made fine jewelry, and before that, an exec at Vistaprint (now as Cimpress).

Janet Holian DraftKings

Under her watch, DraftKings launched a series of ads last fall when the NFL season got underway, so many that it was hard for any sports fan to escape them.

In the first week of this NFL season, DraftKings and FanDuel spent nearly $30 million combined to air some 8,000 TV spots, according to That’s a lot of money, especially when DraftKings claims it “only” made $30 million in 2014, according to the Seattle Times.

“In 2014 I think they learned that this time period—the two weeks prior to Week One [of the NFL season] and Week One—was the critical time when we needed to acquire customers,” Holian told Yahoo Finance. “So there was a definitive decision to have a very wide media footprint during that time.”

Holian expects the majority of the company’s ad spend will take place during the same time window this year, going after NFL fans and convincing them to check out the NBA and NHL offerings at the site. The company may, however, do a similar ad splurge at the start of the Major League Baseball season in April.


Holian told Yahoo that the major difference in ad approaches between DraftKings and FanDuel in that the latter focuses more in its broadcast ads on the potential to win money while DraftKings appeals to a more emotional state. “Our research shows that people play for many different reasons,” she said. “It’s a game within a game; it’s entertaining; it makes them care about the sport more; they do it with friends. So our ads had a lot of that different messaging, and I think we elevated our brand during that time frame.”

Holian also told Yahoo that it will license its name to companies that might want to open DraftKings lounges as well as market more to women. “I think we’ve already shifted that a little bit. We made our ads more female-friendly, including showing a woman winning in one of the ads,” she said. “I think there is an opportunity, since there are plenty of women who love sports. When I played the game before I ever joined the company, I had a blast.”

All these plans, of course, are contingent on legal proceedings across the country falling in favor of DraftKings.