Foxwoods Casino Seeks to Rebuild Brand Beyond Gaming

New CMO Says Focus Must Be on the Experience, Rather Than Product

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In its new campaign, Foxwoods Resort Casino is willing to bet on its services. As it prepares for its 20th anniversary amid an increasingly competitive environment, the Connecticut-based casino wants to sell itself as a destination that offers a little of this or a lot of that -- and much more than gaming.

Rebecca Carr
Rebecca Carr

"If you want to be among people, have interaction, we are the place to do that ," said newly appointed Chief Marketing Officer Rebecca Carr. "We have the 'what else can you do' here." Ms. Carr, who led global marketing for Verizon Communications business, said they've invested heavily in this campaign.

With a re-skinned Foxwoods.com, a new mobile app to play slots, and a large presence on news and travel websites, the company plans to double its marketing outlays from last year, when it spent $8.5 million in measured media, according to Kantar.

The new "Anything But Ordinary" campaign, from Boston-based Mullen, gets back to a key "more than gaming" strategy and acts as a response to an increase in competition from other casino-resorts in the Northeast as well as online gambling.

Ad Age : When was Foxwood's last marketing campaign?

Ms. Carr: About one and a half years ago. [And it] was fairly short-lived. "The Wonder of It All" campaign. They ... shortened it to "ALL," pushing it to say we're more than gaming. It didn't gain the legs that it needed. Given a new leadership team, time and history, from a strategic perspective, it was time to come up with a new plan. We have a new CEO who came in a year ago, now we're all collectively marching to a new strategic plan. But there's been eight months with no campaign. We're expecting at least a year for [this] campaign to rebirth the brand.

Ad Age : Why is there such a big push now?

Ms. Carr: The investment we're making is an indication of a couple of things. The advertising here has lost its way, gotten a little out of control. Mixed messages; it wasn't consistent. Very product-centric. What really prompted this campaign was to align with our project/strategic plan. As you evolve with a strategic plan, you need a brand behind it. We did a lot of research and brand studies to really understand our strengths and weaknesses so that we could be really thoughtful about how we went about this. It was really time to take a look at how we wanted to differentiate ourselves. Anything but ordinary.

Ad Age : How are you executing the campaign?

Ms. Carr: There will be traditional and nontraditional media, TV, radio, billboards. We'll be in train stations, magazines, newspapers, on Facebook ads. We'll be taking over Boston.com [starting Feb.] 20 for seven days -- taking over the landing page and creating three two-by -two square boxes for the slot machines. Both top and side banners will spin on different personalities, displaying corresponding information about them. HULU ads, sweepstakes, scratch cards. We can say that 50% of our budget is in television and the rest is pretty much even with a little more heavy in digital and mobile. We're focusing primarily on Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Ad Age : As the new CMO, what has been your main focus in leading the marketing organization?

Ms. Carr: Not only am I new to Foxwoods, but new to hospitality. This has been a really unique challenge for me. I really narrowed it down to the top three priorities. First was the brand, adjunct to that was our rewards program, and the third piece was segmentation. [It's about] getting smarter and strategic. The competitive landscape has changed dramatically; I'm excited to take this platform that has a lot of extensions.

Ad Age : What exactly are you trying to say about the Foxwoods brand?

Ms. Carr: Over the years there have been a number of new assets made available. I think this campaign will help exemplify some of those things. From a rebranding perspective, when I look at key attributes -- things like luxury, fun, service, those are the attributes that will actually represent us. We're speaking to a very broad range of guests we have coming to the property. Whether you want a night out, a fine dining experience, whether you're here to relax for the week and do away with the husband -- whatever you want to do and whoever you want to be, you can do it here at Foxwoods. In the past, I don't think we've done justice to really promoting that that is meaningful to people.

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