Under the local microscope
Success would come from playing on that legendary Ohio independence, uniqueness and their fierce love of all things Ohioan. “Buying local” works for other commodities, but could it be effectively translated to gaming, particularly when the competition was bigger and located in the two closest major urban markets? The stakes were too high to guess, so rigorous research was essential. One-on-one interviews were conducted, focus groups convened and deep market analysis undertaken before it was decided that local would indeed work.
Being local means mirroring and extolling the personality of the region — a personality that is welcoming, entertaining, exciting and yet still hometown. It would be the special qualities of Ohio that would be the attraction. It was that one central idea, that single theme, that would influence every aspect of the campaign that would make the difference.
It started with the foundation of that devoted Ohio identity. Even people far afield from Ohio know it’s The Buckeye State, and many Ohioans even refer to themselves as buckeyes, so it was decided that Miami Valley should be Ohio’s casino and the buckeye would play a central role.
Creating a brand identity
A brand identity was created with a multi-disciplined campaign featuring two affable characters representing a fictitious company that Miami Valley called the Lucky Buckeye Company. A central part of the Ohio identity is the lore that their state symbol, the buckeye nut, is a lucky charm to be kept in your pocket. The two characters from the Lucky Buckeye Company would screen all the buckeyes in the state to ensure that only the luckiest ones could be found at Miami Valley. Within a month of the opening, thousands of buckeyes were distributed as part of the campaign to reinforce the Ohio local theme. Miami Valley actually ran out. It was so popular that eventually the entire Buckeye State ran out of buckeyes. Neighboring states were raided to replenish the supply. The shortage created such a buzz that it received substantial media coverage, not just locally, but nationally. Having a lucky buckeye became a point of pride for Miami Valley patrons. That single local message was reinforced in a fun and exciting manner that touched the consumer in ways the competitors from out of state just couldn’t.