For its June 2008 opening, Caesars Windsor, the first Caesars casino located outside of the US, hired OEB Enterprises, who worked with its Worldcom PR Group partner Hermanoff PR, on a campaign that targeted Detroit, a major market for the casino.
Caesars Windsor promoted the ease of crossing the Detroit-Windsor border by partnering with the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a mile-long crossing under the Detroit River. Caesars paid the tolls for any vehicle (trucks and buses excluded) going through the tunnel from 3pm to 8pm on June 22.
“One [goal] was to create that buzz and awareness in the media that Caesars was open for business,” says Carrie Kormos, VP of PR for OEB. “[The other goal] was... a gesture to roll out the red carpet to US customers.”
The company announced the toll promotion at a media event on June 13, when major TV, radio, and print outlets from Detroit and Windsor were visiting the new casino. Holly Ward, director of communications for Caesars Windsor, and Neal Belitsky, president of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, were available for interviews.
“When you get that second-party endorsement saying ‘Isn't this great?' it's much better,” Ward says. “The tunnel went above and beyond... They put our logo, the Caesars Medallion, on display screens.”
When cars started lining up, waiting for the free tolls, Caesars knew the campaign was successful. “[Consumers realized] the border isn't as big an obstacle as [they] think it is,” Kormos says. Approximately 2,500 cars came through the tunnel in those five hours.
The team might plan another free toll day, Ward says.
PR team: Caesars Windsor (Ontario), OEB Enterprise (Toronto), and Hermanoff PR (Farmington Hills, MI)
Campaign: Grand Opening of Caesars Windsor
Duration: May-June 2008