Foxwoods cashes in on poker in new ads

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foxwoods resort casino is temporarily shelving its catchy ad jingle to take advantage of the hottest craze in the gaming business.

For its first new advertising campaign in six years, Foxwoods has put "The Wonder Of It All" on the sidelines for two months in order to target poker players and highlight the resort's $300 million expansion.

"Our poker business, which we thought was large to begin with, has almost doubled in the last two years," said Marty Kramer, director-advertising for Foxwoods. "Poker is culturally hot right now and growing in popularity. One of the most interesting things about the growth is that it's attracting a lot of younger adults who hadn't spent much time in casinos before. This younger demographic is the one we're going after."

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The Mashantucket, Conn., resort is a charter member of the World Poker Tour, which is in its second season of being televised on the Travel Channel, and the casino is hosting the WPT Finals in November. The Travel Channel has earned one of its biggest hits with its weekly Wednesday night shows, which were quickly copied by Bravo ("Celebrity Poker Showdown") and Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN ("World Series of Poker").

Mr. Kramer did not offer ad spending for the campaign, but said his marketing budget was upped significantly for 2005. Foxwoods spends about $10 million a year in advertising according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The campaign, from new agency Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, part of Publicis Groupe, breaks Oct. 12. The first of five spots from Kaplan Thaler breaks in targeted markets in the northeast on such cable and niche stations as MSG Network, New England Sports Network and Fox Sports New England.

The first spot, titled "Royal Flush," opens with a scene of a closed men's bathroom door. After a few seconds, a toilet flushes and out walks a king, dressed in royal attire, carrying a newspaper under his arm. A title card reveals "Nothing Beats a Royal Flush," as the camera cuts to footage of poker tables at Foxwoods. The voice-over says "Over 80 poker tables and a charter member of The World Poker Tour." Subsequent spots will follow, featuring similar themes.

"This is the generation that watches Comedy Central and `Saturday Night Live,"' Mr. Kramer said. "We wanted something humorous in an appropriate cultural context."

Mr. Kramer said that "The Wonder of It All" tagline and jingle are being "restaged," and will reappear in January with a successor campaign, also from Kaplan Thaler.

"We're not abandoning that at all," he said. "The poker campaign is a tactical approach in terms of the way we're targeting this particular demo."

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