Mohegan Sun Tries a New Approach

NEW YORK Mohegan Sun sets diners, shoppers and spa goers free in six television spots that break Monday and attempt to differentiate the casino resort from rivals by spotlighting its breadth of offerings.

Reaching beyond blackjack tables and slot machines, the spots from MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners in New York tag the Uncasville, Conn., casino as “A world at play.” The ads show guests revealing their innermost desires with quirky third-person monologues from average Joe-looking actors. The strategy differs dramatically from Connecticut neighbor Foxwoods Casino’s latest sell, a campaign from The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York that broke in October and plays to the country’s current romance with poker.

In one Mohegan Sun spot, a couple is finishing dinner at a restaurant when a waiter asks if they would like dessert. The wife’s routine “No thanks” incenses her husband’s inner-foodie. He gets up from the table and walks into a spotlight as the restaurant around him fades into black.

“Melvin came here to have some fun, not count calories,” the husband says. “Melvin’s stomach says bring me some luscious tiramisu, so Melvin’s stomach should get some luscious tiramisu … Who made Rita’s stomach president of Melvin’s stomach?” He marches back to the table and orders, what else, tiramisu.

In another commercial, a woman suddenly stops in front of a shop window and declares about the bauble showcased therein, “Everything I’ve ever wanted in a crystal frog.” She throws financial prudence to the wind, saying, “For the rest of the weekend, practical Cynthia, here’s your pink slip.” Both ads end with a voiceover saying, “Over 60 restaurants and shops and so much more. Mohegan Sun, a world at play.”

Other spots highlight the client’s luxury hotel rooms and spas with a guy’s guy who wants to spend some time wrapped in seaweed, and its gaming with a man who fakes experience at the craps table with a face he likes to call, “Attack Force Delta.”

Mohegan Sun decided to reach beyond gaming in 2002, when it invested nearly $1 billion in developing a hotel tower, retail space and restaurants. It also built a planeterium and a 10,000-seat arena, said client vice president of advertising and public relations George Galinsky.

After ads from Cliff Freeman and Partners in New York raised awareness of the destination as an alternative to Atlantic City casinos and Foxwoods, just 14 miles away, Mohegan Sun hired KB+P in April and decided it was time to get specific.

“Everyone plays differently,” said Rob Feakins, executive creative director at KB+P. “Our life is all about work and tedious chores and monotony … When you play, your decision about what you want to do at that time says a lot about you.”

Hence the monologues, Feakins explained. The Mohegan Sun ads will run on spot broadcast and cable television in New England and New York, and print ads will follow in March issues of regional magazines.

Spending on the campaign was not disclosed, but Galinsky said about 70 percent of the resort’s $25-30 million annual budget would support the branding effort, while the remaining 30 percent would be spent on retail ads and direct mail.