March 11, 2017 / by admin
Sorry guys, I can't help it, I have to vent on the direction most casinos are going when it comes to strategy and ad campaigns. I am going to be publishing thoughts in a blog entitled , "pull your head out of your ads" This will hopefully become an "a-ha!" moment for you folks that work in Indian Country trying to build brands and revenues for your enterprises. I wish that I could claim creative license to that wonderful blog title but I can't... I have to give credit to my mentor and friend who first coined this term over really bad scotch after a very disappointing loss on an incredible pitch in Iowa 8 years ago.
When he first said, "pull your head out of your ads," I just blew it off as a witty comment from a creative genius. Then it hit me. Most marketing directors build campaigns for who they wish they could be, not who they are! Well for the time being, Jim will remain nameless, but he was so correct and ahead of the game when he said it. Why do casinos continue to build campaigns that don't reflect who they are? How many of you have ads with supermodels playing craps with stacks of blacks in front of them drinking fancy cocktails? The answer is all of you, or most of you. The reality in Indian Country is that most of your tier one players just got off a combine in Oklahoma, just got out of a Dr.'s appointment at the geriatric clinic in Washington, or just got out of a 215 card approval session in Northern California. So why do we keep making ads that make these great guests feel like we only want the beautiful people coming to our casinos? Let me put this to you plainly. ... If you drive by a billboard for McDonald's and you see a Magic Mike look alike with six pack abs and perfect hair holding up a Big Mac would you believe it? I'm guessing as a marketing director you wouldn't!
If as casino marketers you continue to try to tell the potential guests that they should be something that they are not, we will lose. We will lose because nobody believes that everyone wins. Nobody believes the claims of , "winners play here."
Agencies will continue to tell you that you should be aspirational. Your guests want to be jumping tax brackets. But after 22 years in this business I am telling you that these guests don't want to be somebody else, they want to be who they are, and comfortable choosing brands that most reflect their core values. In Indian Country our guests drive a Ford, own guns, and watch college football. They believe in things that are emotional not practical. That is why some of my best guests work for a living and have emotional connections with the brands that they chose. John D. Harley, Bass Pro Shops, Hobby Lobby, and yes, John Daniels. (I know most of you know it as Jack Daniels but when you know him as well as I do you can call him John) One thing Jim told me a long time ago was that, "it's not what you sell it is what you stand for that matters." Our strategy when it comes to advertising to gamblers needs to have an emotional connection.
The "take your head out of your ads," blog will not be something you can take to your tribal council, it will not be something that will make you famous, it will be simple truths that you can use to help make revenue for your casino. Here is a simple fact that you can use to convince your council to do something different. There are 131 casinos in Oklahoma, over 50, "destination" tribal casinos in California, 32 in Washington, and I can gamble at 7/11. There is only one Yeti, a cooler that does the same thing that Coleman did for 112 years! If we continue to sell Coolers for $23.00 somebody will come along and sell your guests one for $200 that does the same thing. Let me reiterate "it's not what you sell, it's what you stand for that matters." Thanks nameless Jim...?