Mohegan Sun bets on celebs, VR to excite consumers about 20th anniversary

Campaign efforts garnered more than 847 million media impressions, measured across both social and traditional outlets, and approximately $6 million in comparative advertising value to-date.

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend at the Mohegan Sun event
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend at the Mohegan Sun event

Company: Mohegan Sun
Agency: Coyne Public Relations
Campaign: Mohegan Sun’s 20th Anniversary
Duration: October

Mohegan Sun rang in its 20th anniversary with celebrities and virtual reality to showcase its property, resort amenities, and entertainment venues.

Along with a five-minute-long VR video, the casino’s month-long integrated campaign featured a lineup of more than 50 concerts, comedy specials, and celebrity events.

Since opening its doors in October 1996, Mohegan Sun has grown to be one of the largest casinos in the U.S and hosts more than 9 million visitors each year.

Mohegan Sun, along with agency Coyne PR, began planning for the campaign in spring 2016.

The goal of this campaign was to generate as much media and consumer excitement about Mohegan Sun’s 20th anniversary as possible, raise awareness for the casino among regional and national media outlets, and continue to position Mohegan Sun as one of the top entertainment venues in the world.

Coyne proposed the creation of a 360-degree VR video to bring the brand story to life through a unique consumer experience.

A month-long celebration plan was developed to support the campaign, with an A-list headline performance scheduled every week, and a special focus on an anniversary VIP weekend set for mid-October.

In terms of media outreach efforts, the team targeted national entertainment broadcast, print, and online outlets, such as E! News, Entertainment Tonight, and US Weekly, to tease celebrity attendance and musical performances.

The team also pitched regional and niche outlets, such as Boston magazine, Refinery29, Elite Daily and Luxury Travel magazine to generate coverage of Mohegan Sun as a destination story. Mohegan Sun's flagship casino property is located in southeastern Connecticut, making Boston a primary target market for brand visibility.

As part of the campaign's social media strategy, the hashtag #MoheganSun20 was created. Mohegan Sun looked to leverage branded social channels with messages from celebrity event attendees and musical acts.

The digital production team from Coyne spent three days shooting on-site at Mohegan Sun to obtain visual assets for the VR video and ensure video edits could be made on schedule.

"The VR technology enabled us to highlight Mohegan’s journey over the last 20 years right in front of the viewer’s eye without stepping a foot on property – or even visiting their website," said Coyne VP Lauren Mackiel. "The VR video frame was crafted using a mix of historical photography and video assets, completely new footage filmed just for the anniversary, as well as artist renderings showcasing future developments."

Mohegan Sun and Coyne gave national media first access to the VR video via a branded mailer containing a Google Cardboard VR viewing device, link to the video, and press materials. Target media’s mailer box also included an invite to attend Mohegan Sun’s VIP weekend taking place October 14-16.

The PR team secured a Getty photographer and production crew for the weekend, coordinating celebrity interviews and hotel reservations for all participating media.

Star-studded red carpet event parties were held on both Friday and Saturday night of the VIP weekend, featuring Kevin Hart, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Anna Kendrick, cast members of The Real Housewives, Robin Thicke and more. Coverage of the red carpet events appeared on celebrity and pop culture outlets like Popsugar, Celebuzz, Fashion Bomb Daily, Heavy, and Reality Tea.

The Friday night VIP event featured a performance by Kevin Hart’s Comedy All-Star Comedy and an appearance by The Bachelorette’s JoJo Fletcher. Fergie and LL Cool J also headlined musical sets at the event.

Mohegan Sun leveraged branded social channels throughout the month, culminating with the release of a digital video featuring musical guests and celebrities wishing the brand a happy 20th anniversary. Artists who appeared in the video include: Chicago, Tony Bennett, KISS, Luke Bryan, and Kacey Musgraves, to name a few.

"To further drive awareness, we completed a four-week media buy in one of our most important markets: Boston," added Jennifer Harris Ballester, director of corporate communications, Mohegan Sun. "A classic Boston trolley was wrapped in Mohegan Sun’s 20th anniversary branding, adding a high visibility marketing promotion in high-profile Boston areas to our strategy."

Coyne secured nearly 30 media guests to attend the VIP weekend, including representatives from media outlets such as ABC News Online, Boston magazine, Time Out New York, Cosmopolitan, Gotham Magazine, Complex, Bustle, Elite Daily, Essence, US Weekly, Life & Style, MTV, Hollywood Life, Redbook, Refinery29, and VH1.

National broadcast coverage segments landed on E! News, Entertainment Tonight, Elvis Duran and the Morning Show on Z100, and Boomer & Carton’s CBS radio show, as well as online features in People, and CNBC, among other publications.

Coverage also included regional, travel and lifestyle outlets featuring Mohegan Sun’s 20th anniversary, including Boston Herald, Luxury Travel magazine, Elite Daily, Travel with Val, Complex Magazine, InStyle, SELF, Inside Hook, and Bustle.

Campaign efforts garnered more than 847 million media impressions, measured across both social and traditional outlets, and approximately $6 million in comparative advertising value to-date, according to Coyne.

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