All Bets Are Off at Incumbent Lord Fernandez; Louisiana Casino Switches to Graham Group

The Graham Group of Lafayette, La., has been named agency of record for Grand Casino Coushatta without a review.
Billings for the Native American-owned casino in Kinder, La., were undisclosed, but sources estimate the account at $4 million-plus.
The casino has been represented by Lord Fernandez here since the gaming facility’s 1994 opening.
Lord Fernandez president John Lord did not return calls. The account loss is the latest blow for the shop, which faced complaints of late payments from vendors earlier this year [Adweek, May 19].
Grand Coushatta advertising director Kirk Mattle had not returned calls at press time to discuss the agency switch.
Graham had been the runner-up during a review for the casino’s grand opening push. No review was held when the client decided to replace Lord Fernandez, Graham Group founder George Graham said.
“We heard through the grapevine that they were looking and we ap-proached them,” Graham said. “We had done some project work for the sister property Grand Avoyelles and had some friends there.
“We didn’t give them any special deal,” Graham added. “We went in and talked to them about our experience, our close proximity [less than an hour away] and our previous dealings with casino operators. They were looking for a solid agency.”
Graham signed a contract with Grand two weeks ago to provide full-service capabilities.
While Grand has advertising in place for the remainder of the year, Graham plans to start new work in the first quarter of next year.
“That gives us time to put together a campaign that will have our stamp on it,” Graham said. “The market’s become more competitive. The maturing of the gaming industry in Louisiana has made it that way. The newness factor has worn off everybody and now marketing becomes even more important.”