PokerStars Found a Dude With the Perfect Poker Face for Its New Ad

It's not as hard as you think, says campaign


PokerStars puts on its game face and bids newbies to sign up for some online gambling action in fresh work themed, “You’re already a great poker player.”

Hey, why not cash in that 401(k) and really take charge of your financial future, right?

“To recruit new players and poker beginners, we had to convince non-expert players that PokerStars was the best place for them to play, a place where they could actually win,” says Romain Roux, co-founder and strategy chief of Paris agency Romance, which developed the campaign.

To that end, the team chose to focus on the stoic, presumably inscrutable “poker face” many of us cultivate to mask our true feelings in various social situations—say, when a huge dinner check arrives, or a date hogs the pizza.

Director Rudi Rosenberg auditioned lots of actors for the central role, asking them to make all sorts of weird faces.

The actor they chose was perfect for the part. His mug’s mighty tough to read. Mostly, it looks like he has indigestion.

“The campaign idea came from a specific insight: Most people think they need to be an expert to win at poker, whereas they just need basic human and social skills,” Roux says. “Most people are already great poker players, they just don’t know it.”

Did he say that with a straight face? Look, without plenty of preparation and practice, most folks are NOT great poker players, but flattering the target audience probably seems like a safe bet.

Client: PokerStars
Brand Management: Simon Tilbury, Martin Szelenbaum, Kirsten Everett

Agency: Romance
Creative Director : Alexandre Hervé
Copywriters : Philippe Pinel & Frédérick Lung
Assistant AD: Julien Rezette
Business Director: Sébastien de Milleville
Account Manager: Nicolas Andrieux

Production Company: Insurrection
Director: Rudi Rosenberg

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.