Things To Avoid When Making Great Casino Advertising

What you should do versus what you want to do

Sponsored Content by Red Circle

Do you read many “self-help” books?  I read a fair amount. I’ve always been a reader, and it used to be I’d read a lot of fiction — mostly science fiction. But the older I get, the bigger my company gets, the more I find myself thumbing through books like “Good to Great,” “Atomic Habits,” or “The Compound Effect,” and books about how to be a better person, better leader, and better business CEO. I’ve even attended speaking events held by Tony Robbins. I used to think he was a nut, but not anymore — the more I’m exposed to him/his writings, the more I think he’s pretty amazing.

I guess I’m confessing here that as I get older, I’m spending more and more of my time and effort trying to find ways to better myself, better my company’s operations, and better my relationships with those people who share my life. Because that’s what mature people do, right? At some point we grow up, stop playing all day long, and start making smarter choices, choices our parents approve of (rather than choices that make them shake their heads and sigh loudly).

This is what I SHOULD do. Even though it’s still more fun reading a science fiction book, or more fun running off to Vegas with buddies for a long weekend. Those are the things I WANT to do.

This article is about the casino marketing, and specifically casino advertising, and both versions of that question: If I want an effective casino advertising campaign, with something that grabs the attention of my players and gets them excited about MY casino – what are the things I SHOULD do versus the things that I WANT to do?

The difference between those two choices can mean millions in revenue for your casino.

Priorities & Getting Started

You need information. Regular formal research is best. But, if you can’t afford that, then you need to ask anyone and everyone — players, front-line employees, middle management, executive management — a bunch of questions.

Your goal in this information-gathering phase is truly know something about

1.) who your players are,

2.) where they come from,

3.) why they choose to visit your casino,

4.) what other casinos they visit,

5.) why do they visit those other casinos,

6.) likes and dislikes,

7.) wants and needs,

8.) what would make them visit you more often.

That’s all the really good stuff. Ask questions, write down the answers, ask others to do the same. Good data is gold.

The problem with this strategy is that it’s real work. It takes time and effort. And if done well, it’s a lot of time and effort (and money if you have professionals help you). It’s not easy. And when your staffing levels are low, and you are busy all day every day, hunting down all this information is a pain in the ass. But the alternative, the easy answer, which is to just make a from-the-gut guess, is what you SHOULD NOT do. You may WANT to do that because it’s easier, but you should not. Knowing something because you gathered up a whole bunch of data and analyzed that data and arrived at an answer that has some real truth to it — that is always better than guessing and hoping. Always.

Now That You Have Good Data, Break-Through Strategy Is Next

Find that one big idea that you can use to tell the story of your casino’s brand. This is often where you go out and employ a creative agency like Red Circle — an expert group of creative professionals that work on problems like this all day, every day. We are very good at solving these problems for our clients. The solution involves these steps.

  1. Make a list or a chart describing the brand positioning of your competition. What are they saying about themselves, what are they promising their players, how are they saying it, what does their advertising look like — colors, content, design systems — all of that stuff that makes their brand messaging specific to them.
  2. Figure out what you can say about your casino that’s different and not the same as what they are saying. And this is the key idea, the most important part of this whole article — you must find a way to be different. If you are the same — same images, same words, same content, same promises — then it’s impossible to be truly interesting. And being interesting is where all the brand work is done, where all the effectiveness and efficiencies are found. Being boring is very expensive. Because no one will think about you on their own. The only way they will think about your brand is if you beat them over the head with lots and lots of media impressions. And that’s expensive. And if often not very effective — if your messaging is boring.
  3. Once you’ve arrived at that one thing that makes you different, you have to then figure out how to deliver that one thing in the form of creative content. I always suggest you try to tell some sort of story and use human emotion as the engine to push that story. Check out our website for examples.

Again, this is work. And money if you really want to hit it out of the park — because you will need to hire a professional agency to really make great work. The easy answer is always to just do what every other casino is doing. Your boss and your colleagues might even encourage it. “Hey, I was at that casino down the road, and I like that place and their ad campaign looks like this blah, blah, blah. Let’s just do that but make it about us.”  And what that usually means is a really boring brochure ad that showcases the building, the machines on the floor, tables, and the amenities — like a brochure. Wrong, wrong, wrong. But it’s really easy because it requires no thought, no creativity, no (perceived) danger (because if everyone else is doing it, no one will fire me for doing what the big casino down the road is doing). Easy, safe, inexpensive — I know how you can WANT to do that. But it’s wrong. It’s more than wrong, actually, it’s the worst thing you can do. If you want your advertising dollars to actually do something for you.

After Strategy, Finally Production

Few casinos do true strategy work – which is a real shame. Creative strategy is what gives you a chance to differentiate your position in the market, to find an idea that really gets your players excited ABOUT YOU (rather than a generic idea that just makes them think about gaming), which pushes them to visit whatever casino is closest or gave them the best offer. What a shame, and what a waste of money. But I will say, for every casino that spends too little on their casino advertising production, there’s a casino that spends a whole bunch. Big splashy and generic brochure ads are common. That’s a different kind of easy, fun, and also easy. but just as wrong.

This is where hiring the right professional agency is important. You SHOULD review a bunch of shops, a bunch of directors, to make sure the group you hire knows how to tell the story you want to tell (comedy is different from action which is different from heart-felt, etc.) and has examples of work that FEELS like what you want them to create for you. But again, that’s work.

If you want it to be good, however, you need to do the work.


Making great casino advertising takes work. There’s no easy button. It’s also really important. Especially if you are in a highly competitive market with a bunch of casinos spending lots of advertising dollars. Getting it right can mean millions to your casino’s bottom line. But it won’t be easy, might mean the fun idea you dreamed up over coffee in the break room last week doesn’t fit because the data and the strategy suggest a different direction. And that’s less fun for you, or for your boss, or whoever WANTS to make an ad that looks like your more successful competitor’s campaign. But that’s the whole point here — What SHOULD you do versus what you WANT to do?  What direction will create more value, which will waste more budget?

The self-help book I’m reading right now suggests that doing the work, maximizing your potential, is its own reward. And well worth it. I’m highlighting that line and I’m going to dog-ear that page in the book and return to it when my work seems hard. Please do the same with this. Trust the process outlined here. Your rewards will be worth it, too.