WongDoody Takes ‘Pro’ Approach to Poker

LOS ANGELES Independent WongDoody has launched its first domestic effort on behalf of celebrity player-owned gambling site FullTiltPoker.com, according to the agency.

Appearing in the November Card Player magazine, the two-page, two-color execution features a close-up photograph of a poker hand—a pair of 10s—accompanied by the text “Limp in or all in?” The facing page shows the same hand, this time about to be played at a chip-stacked table guarded by a humorless card shark. Large-letter text reads, “Does this change your decision?” The ad also includes the Full Tilt logo and tagline, “Learn, chat and play with the pros.”

Based in Aruba, Full Tilt is owned by 10 professional poker players, said Ben Wiener, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles shop. The tournament-champion investors—including Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harman and Chris Ferguson—play regularly on the site, as well as offer personalized betting strategies and game tips. WongDoody’s ads, Wiener said, reinforce the fact that with so much individual attention, a FullTiltPoker.com player can genuinely “improve [his or her] game online.”

In addition to Card Player, the spread is expected to run in December poker magazines Bluff and All In, a WongDoody representative said. Upcoming campaign components include television, online and promotions.

Later this month, WongDoody breaks the second phase of its United Kingdom Full Tilt campaign, the rep said. Stylistically similar to the American executions, U.K. outdoor and transit boards depict the 10 Reservoir Dogs-reminiscent owner-pros gathered around a card table. Boards—some with route-specific copy—will be posted in London underground stations along 14 train lines.

WongDoody’s U.K. print campaign launched in October issues of Esquire, GQ, Men’s Health, Maxim and Inside Edge, among other periodicals. These ads will also continue to run, the rep said.

With game offerings such as Hold ‘Em, Stud, No Limit and Omaha, and bets ranging from 25 cents to $400, Full Tilt is accessible to all levels of enthusiast, Wiener said. But “it does attract a more serious poker player” than other Web-based card sites, he noted. “It’s not just a crazy, fun, meet-friends-from-another-country poker site.”

WongDoody won the client’s global creative duties in August following a brief review. Work had previously been handled by Omnicom Group’s DDB, Venice, Calif., which resigned the account earlier this year.

Full Tilt spent $450,000 on advertising in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus; from January to July 2005, however, the ad budget jumped to $1.6 million. Sources said the company has spent upwards of $1 million per month since August, a figure that is in line with the spending of rival online destinations such as Party Poker and Poker Stars.