Harrah's adds a bit of Vegas to Chicago casino's opening

With the opening of its $500 million Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, IN, Harrah's Entertainment sought to bring the panache of Vegas casino culture to the Midwest.

With the opening of its $500 million Horseshoe Hammond Casino in Hammond, IN, Harrah's Entertainment sought to bring the panache of Vegas casino culture to the Midwest.

Seeking out a young, gamer demographic who appreciate luxe, high-roller casinos, Harrah's tapped XA to create PR programs and events that would draw awareness for the grand opening, says Angela Wise, brand management director of Harrah's.

Strategy
In reaching out to this audience, the “biggest competition for the casino was Las Vegas,” Wise says. “These customers typically go to Vegas three or four times a year, not to local [venues]. We wanted to get through to these customers.” In promoting the new venue, AOR XA sought to highlight the gambling activities and its state-of-the-art entertainment facility, says Leah Eisenstein, XA's PR account director.

Tactics
The team invited targeted influencers, including business pros, society figures, and notable gamers, to attend the Tastemaker Event on July 17, Eisenstein says. The team planned a yacht trip to the casino, media tours, electronic press kits, and one-on-one pitching to reach local and national media, she adds.

Also, XA created a Facebook page for the casino, which was a first for the brand, Wise says. During the grand opening, the casino hosted a private party with celebrity appearances, Eisenstein adds.

Results
About 25,000 people attended the grand opening, which “definitely exceeded our expectations,” Wise says. Also, the attendance goal for the Tastemaker event was 300 guests, but more than 500 of the 1,500 invitees came, Eisenstein adds.

Future
The casino will continue to promote itself with smaller, “more intimate” Tastemaker events, Wise says. XA will continue to do PR and media relations for the casino.

PR team: Harrah's Entertainment (Las Vegas) and XA, The Experiential Agency (Chicago)

Campaign: Grand Opening of Horseshoe Hammond Casino

Duration: February-August 8, 2008

Budget: about $40,000

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