Tough times can make strange bedfellows.
In the United States, trade associations have become ubiquitous, with industry players pooling resources to champion issues for their collective benefit. Think milk, pork, beef, and consumer electronics, just to name a few.
But two direct competitors, just six miles apart, with proud histories as separate Indian nations, joining forces to market themselves as a distinct entertaniment destination? Now, that’s something altogether different.
Yet, that’s what Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos in southeastern Connecticut are doing. With consumers tapped-out of discretionary entertainment funds and casino revenues declining in this difficult economy (Mohegan Sun’s net income fell 13.3% for its fiscal year 2008), the two competitors decided to team up and battle for a greater share of the region’s gaming market. How? They’ve targeted Atlantic City.
“We can drive more business together than we can individually,” Michael Speller, president of Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprises (owner of Foxwoods) told The Wall Street Journal.
This week, the former rivals launched an advertising barrage that uses billboard ads strategically located on major highways in New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey. There’s also a Web site headlined “Two worlds beat one City” (http://www.playctcasinos.com/). Billboards feature that headline and two more that take direct aim at the Atlantic City gaming industry: “Way beyond the boredwalk” and “Escape the Jersey snore.” The ads were created by Adams & Knight, a Connecticut agency (http://www.adamsknight.com/).
Mitchell Ettess, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, the owner of Mohegan Sun, speaking about the northern NJ/NYC market, told The Wall Street Journal that “we want to aggressively approach those folks and show them Connecticut is a better destination.”
According to the Norwich Bulletin, “the venture, slated to run through the end of September, is designed to position the region as a major resort and entertainment destination. The program will highlight amenities offered collectively by the resort casino properties as well as the local tourism and hospitality industries.”
Time will tell if the eight billboard ads and Web site can effectively reach and impact the desired target market. Apparently, print ads are under consideration for a potential phase two effort.
Defining your market and competition is a strategic decision. Sometimes the competition is more than your competitor. It’s rare outside an industry association, and definitely a tricky dance, but just maybe your competitor can be your partner. Be careful, though. Be very careful!
Harvey Chimoff is a hands-on marketing leader and business-wide collaborator who builds marketing capabilities in B2B/B2C organizations that drive customer success.