In 2015, Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, an Enterprise of the Tohono O’odham Nation, opened the doors of Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, their first casino outside Southern Arizona.
What started as a small slots-only casino with little visibility would transform into a premier casino in the Valley by 2020 — a $400 MM, 75,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,100+ of the newest Class III slot machines, 38 poker tables, 46 blackjack tables, distinctive bars, and high-end restaurants.
While they knew the market in Southern Arizona like the back of their hand, and the limited, slots-only version of the Phoenix-based casino had been in operation for years, Desert Diamond Casino West Valley had little to no name recognition in the greater Phoenix Valley. Plus, their introduction of the new, expanded facility would have to compete with a saturated market of legacy casinos.
Drawing in a large crowd of guests was one thing, but what they really wanted was to take that a step further, distinctly setting themselves apart in a crowded market. And they didn’t want to just rely on beginner’s luck to tell their Cinderella story.
They needed a partner with casino marketing expertise that could help them launch a memorable brand advertising campaign, implement data-driven media, and a digital marketing strategy that would be critical to the success of their grand reveal.
How do you solidify a unique brand position, ultimately attracting and retaining the right guest in a new market saturated with legacy competitors?
We understood the Pure Player audience thoroughly (as well as how to position a casino brand in a crowded market) from our work with Golden Entertainment.
Pure Player: A regular slots player who “games for gaming’s sake” and not for entertainment.
Because the original casino was slots-only, we expected Desert Diamond to attract Pure Players. Focus groups with the casino’s best and potential guests confirmed for us that this was indeed an audience who really cared about two things: a quality gaming experience, and spending time and money where they felt like they could actually win. As seen in the image below, focus groups uncovered that seven out of nine returning guests ranked the selection of slot machines the most important element of a casino, ranking the casino atmosphere the second most important element. These findings are in line with what we’ve learned during our work on other casino marketing campaigns.
These are not novel desires for a casino player, but what we identified is that Desert Diamond is uniquely designed for the Player. The casino’s amenities prioritized the Player’s gaming experience — from the live bingo room, which could hold more than 400 players, to the Winners Sports Bar — and all amenities truly put the Player first, including a jackpot celebration experience like no other casino in the Valley.
This definitely set Desert Diamond apart from its competitors.
A three-phase advertising campaign, coupled with a highly effective, customized media and digital marketing strategy, would prove to be a sure bet for Desert Diamond Casino West Valley.
The slots-only casino drew from a loyal but geographically limited demographic in the West Valley. On the weekends, they reached a capacity of 3,500 people more often than not, so our work was concentrated to a large extent on creatively enhancing the monthly promotions designed to draw additional customers during the slower weekdays.
We did this by leveraging the message, We Are In Your Backyard. Desert Diamond aimed to own the West Valley, and did so through concentrated and strategic outdoor advertising placements.
We also began positioning Desert Diamond Casino West Valley as a place where lucky feels familiar. Winning felt special not only because players were close to home, but also because of the spectacle made around jackpot winnings — big and small.
During this phase, we discovered that Desert Diamond’s key audience had very mixed awareness about the new casino under construction right next door. While we supported the operational gaming floor, we also knew just how critical it was to simultaneously develop a strong strategy and concepts to launch the new clubhouse.
The local competition’s amenities and offerings were run-of-the-mill, especially compared to what the new Desert Diamond Casino West Valley had to offer. It was clear to us that Desert Diamond had the opportunity to own ‘Fun’ in the West Valley.
We started the three-month teaser campaign, The Fun Rises in the West, with a massive orange poker chip rising like the sun from behind the White Tank Mountains, in outdoor, print, TV, and digital placements. As we approached the grand opening, we even ran outdoor creative on digital boards with a 15-day countdown to the opening.
The pre-launch hype was an instant hit — thanks in no small part to a new strategic media direction. The number of guests lined up on the opening day of the new casino exceeded expectations and casino capacity. In the few days following, the number of guests continued to exceed expectations, as the casino saw more than double the visitation than they had seen on average prior to opening the new location.
We established the brand campaign, Welcome to Jackpot Valley, that launched three weeks after the grand opening. We wanted to develop a casino advertising campaign that could be ownable in the long term.
Beyond the slots, we wanted to position the casino as a place that celebrates everything the casino has to offer. The campaign highlighted the extraordinary jackpot-winning experience exclusive to Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, which features a unique light show, music, and special effects, and brings the same energy to other components of the casino from the table games and restaurants, to the overall atmosphere.
Assets included TV, radio, and outdoor promotions showcasing this messaging. Unique additions included creating an Alexa Skill to inform casino guests of the latest updates, maximizing their rewards program and enhancing the VIP experience; and developing a Tribute Card for Veterans to offer special discounts and opportunities to Veterans. The inclusion of these two assets provided distinctive offerings for guests — ensuring Desert Diamond Casino West Valley would continue to be set apart from other casinos’ marketing and digital experiences for guests.
We were firing on all cylinders throughout each phase of the solution, especially when it came to media.
As the agency that places more media in Arizona than any other, we brought our unmatched knowledge of media pricing, inventory, and research tools to the table — knowledge we gained thanks in large part to our media work with brands like the Arizona Lottery and Phoenix Suns.
While the pre-launch and brand campaigns were underway, we simultaneously established two key changes to the casino’s media strategy.
First, we uncovered the differences in how their desired guest uses media compared to their current guest. Then, we conducted an audit and analysis of their media placements to improve their existing buys.
Hint: we helped Desert Diamond Casino West Valley score BIG!
Agency fees are typically considered an expense, but for Desert Diamond, our fees were truly an investment that returned more than 2:1 ROI in media cost savings and value.
Unfortunately, just two days after the Welcome to Jackpot Valley campaign launched, COVID-19 closed down much of the country, including Desert Diamond’s newest casino. We took immediate action and began analyzing, assessing, and creating a pandemic strategy to help the casino recover lost revenue during the shutdown.
For Desert Diamond Casino West Valley, we worked around the clock to cancel significant media buys and change all digital outdoor messaging regarding the closure. We also wiped away media bills for advertising that had already run - buying, moving, canceling, and re-placing millions of contracted dollars of media. Ultimately, we negotiated more than $180,000 of cost relief for the casino.
In the months that followed, we recut the original TV spot to showcase social distancing precautions, filmed a new safety video, crafted in-casino overhead recordings, designed new signage, and more. No matter the new angle of the creative or messaging, we still worked to build the brand recognition of Jackpot Valley.
The opening of the new casino exceeded even the most optimistic expectations — to the point that arriving guests found the casino had reached full capacity of 10,000 people early on the debut evening! Even on weekday mornings, attendance has been far beyond expectations.
Full capacity reached early on opening night
Improvement in impressions delivered per media dollar spent
Employees recruited for the new casino
ROI on media savings
It’s one thing to have a successful ribbon-cutting. It’s another to have so many guests that we had to turn some away – due to a marketing campaign that produced a significant increase in brand awareness!
While 2020 certainly had a few tricks up its sleeve (a pandemic and state-mandated lockdown, to name a few), it couldn’t change the final result: a compelling story strategically shared with the right audience is a safe bet, sure to attract and retain both new and repeat guests.
By spotlighting what set Desert Diamond apart from other casinos, we turned the West Valley into Jackpot Valley — changing the category conversation and creating a long-term, ownable position for the casino brand.
“They’ve done a remarkable job learning our business and using that knowledge to provide a comprehensive approach to research, planning, and media buying. Just as impressive are LaneTerralever’s creative capabilities and excellent customer service, which has far exceeded our expectations.”
- Don Ayers, General Manager