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Details make the difference in Harrah’s
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Details make the difference in Harrah’s multiethnic marketing efforts

By Pat Riedman, Wednesday April 30

In July Harrah’s Entertainment will unveil the new Horseshoe Casino Hammond on Lake Michigan. The 350,000-square feet gaming and entertainment facility in Hammond, Ind., is internally nicknamed M.O.A.B. –mother of all boats—for tripling the size of the current Harrah’s facility there. Yet despite the massive size, Harrah’s didn’t forget the important details: The casino will also feature a self-described state-of-the-art Asian gaming pit, decorated in Asian-styled décor and serving food from various Asian cuisines.

While Asians represent a minority of Harrah’s clientele, “they represent a disproportionate amount of revenue,” says Marty Turman director of multicultural marketing at Harrah’s. It’s a demographic Harrah’s has been targeting with special marketing efforts for the last decade.

Harrah’s attention to Asians is deep: Not only does it cater to them by offering special gaming pits at many of its casinos around the country, it also holds sensitivity training with its staff. “Most Asian cultures are superstitious,” says Mr. Turman. For instance, touching someone on the shoulder while they are playing at a table could be perceived as transferring bad luck to that person, he says. Certain numbers and colors also hold unlucky connotations in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and other Asian cultures, something he says also has to be reflected in its advertising and direct mail efforts. K&L Advertising and L3 Advertising handle Harrah’s corporate multicultural marketing and events.

Harrah’s is the biggest casino operator in the world, having recently purchased Caesars Entertainment last year for $5 billion. Its largest brands are Horseshoe, Caesars and Harrah’s. And while each of the facilities runs independent marketing campaigns, Harrah’s oversees the corporate and multicultural efforts.

But just how does Harrah’s correctly identify Asians and other ethnic groups? About eight years ago Mr. Turman says it began to work with outside vendors to analyze its customer data, with varying results.

Three years ago, it began working with Ethnic Technologies, tapping its E-Tech proprietary software, which he says has reaped the best results so far. Now every month Harrah’s sends Ethnic Technologies between 100,000 and 350,000 names of recent customers, which the vendor analyzes and codes. E-Tech looks at customers by first, last and middle names, and then, if it needs further clarification, will classify by a person’s home address. Each name is then applied with a code, such as ethnicity, language preference, inferred religion and race.

By looking at [Harrah’s] database, we can see that “it’s rich in Asian males and they like to gamble,” says Candace Kennedy, director of sales and marketing at Ethnic Technologies, adding that Harrah’s can then better pinpoint its marketing, by overlaying other data, such as how far a person might drive to a casino, or spending data.

Addressing potential flaws in its data results, Ms. Kennedy stresses that E-Tech is an “an inferred system.” “We’re not invading anyone’s privacy,” she says. “We’re guessing at people’s ethnicity with a high-level of accuracy,” which she says, is on average 95%.

Asians are just one group that Harrah’s is zeroing in on with its marketing efforts. Eastern Europeans, such as Russians and Poles, especially in urban areas, such as Chicago, are another important source of revenue.
And obviously, the Hispanic market is something into which Harrah’s is pouring energy, Mr. Turman says, tapping some of the successful methods it’s gleaned from its Asian outreach and marketing.

Harrah’s has already been active at the individual casino level. Last year, San Antonio, Texas-based Garcia 360 created an integrated campaign for Harrah’s Rio All-Suites Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, which included operational recommendations down to advising the casino to have Spanish-speaking call center representatives available and a Spanish microsite, in addition to Spanish-targeted collateral, TV, print and radio ads.

On a corporate level, Harrah’s is in the process of picking an Hispanic agency of record, selecting from two finalist ad agencies, with a decision expected within the next two to four weeks, Mr. Turman says. The move “really trumps our commitment to Hispanic marketing,” Mr. Turman says. “We’re diving headfirst into it.”

E-Tech ® and The EthniCenter ® are registered trademarks of Ethnic Technologies, LLC. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.

For more information, contact:

Candace Kennedy
Director of Sales and Marketing
Ethnic Technologies, LLC
(866) 333-8324

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