Brainchild Urges More Indian Casinos in Arizona

Gritty images of American Indians living in pov erty on reservations animate a new ad campaign urging Arizona residents to permit more casino gambling in the state.

Five TV spots from Brainchild Creative in San Francisco support a ballot initiative in Arizona sponsored by the Colorado River Indian Tribes. The consortium of tribes is spending about $10 million on the campaign, sources said.

Proponents of Proposition 200 argue that allowing more tribes to open casinos and gaming locations would help reduce poverty among American Indians. Fewer than a dozen of the state’s 21 tribes are currently allowed to run casinos.

The spots were shot on a reservation in Parker, Ariz., and directed by Michael Cuesta, who also directed the film L.I.E. and episodes of HBO’s Six Feet Under. Jef Loeb of Brainchild was the creative director and art director. The message is that gambling revenue can help many American Indian families get off the welfare rolls and earn a living wage.

The first spot opens with a shot of an American Indian girl walking through a rocky plain with a flower in her hand, then cuts to a shot of American Indians crowded into a car. A voiceover points out that there are low rates of cancer in American Indian communities, but onscreen text explains why: “The average rural Indian lives 55 years … 17 years less than the rest of us.” Such a short life expectancy precludes many Indians from getting cancer, the voice explains.

The spot closes with text that says Proposition 200 reforms tribal gaming laws to provide better healthcare for American Indians.

A second commercial also shows images of American Indians on reservations. This time the onscreen text says there are two ways to reform welfare: tightening regulations or decreasing the number of needy people. The spot then suggests that prosperous Indian casinos could help American Indians get off welfare.

“The way we approached it was to show the reality of Indian pov erty,” Loeb said. “There was a lot of rich emotional material to work with. We tried to remind people that there is a need and urgency behind Proposition 200.”