Online and sports betting became legal options for Michigan’s gaming industry in 2020. The change brought with it an onslaught of pro-gambling ads encouraging Michiganders to bet. At the same time, the world began to experience the impacts of the pandemic. Many turned to online gaming.
Not everyone who gambles will develop a problem. But for those who can’t stop, the results can be catastrophic. Brain imaging of those with a gambling disorder is like those addicted to drugs or alcohol. By 2022, the number of calls coming into the state’s gambling helpline had increased by 171% and 170% more people were referred for treatment of gambling-related problems than in 2020.
These and other troubling statistics sparked an initiative to prevent problem gambling before it starts. The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) created its Responsible Gaming Section to combat the advertising onslaught and educate the public about responsible gambling.
The objective of the integrated marketing campaign is to reduce the number of people in Michigan who develop a serious gambling addiction by:
Encouraging community organizations to reach out to the MGCB for informational materials, presentations, and public speaking engagements.
Reviewing first, second and third-party data sources, we defined the primary MGCB audience and identified several strategic sub-audiences. We used tools that have stood the test of time (and credibility) like comScore, Kantar, Scarborough, Nielsen and numerous digital tools, ensuring that decisions are built on the most recent and accurate qualitative and psychographic data available.
We delivered an entertaining, highly visible multimedia campaign centered on a single idea—Don’t Regret the Bet. Our campaign strategy is rich with examples of how we use research for both creative development and to reach highly specific audiences. King’s experience mining for these audiences—who they are, where they live, the content channels they favor and the behaviors they exhibit—was a big advantage while planning and allowed for a highly targeted and effective campaign.
The March 1 launch kicked off Problem Gambling Awareness Month and was just in time for the start of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, March Madness. We directed all paid media dollars toward tactics that have the greatest impact and provide trackable results including broadcast and over-the-top (OTT) television, radio, podcasts, digital and social media marketing, billboards, and athletic partnerships.
We strategically flighted each asset so that messages were live in Michigan in one form or another throughout the campaign, and we leveraged relationships throughout the state to guarantee substantial earned media value. We optimized broad, statewide efforts for awareness/reach and link clicks—then we dove deeper to reach several sub-audiences.
The first of these ad sets, March Madness ads delivered audience-specific creative only during the NCAA basketball tournament. We used behavioral data to identify sports fans. Then, we cross referenced the audience for an interest in gambling, which we defined as those with a gambling app on their device and/or those who’d recently visited a Michigan casino (as determined through geofencing).
Geofencing also allowed us to deliver messaging to horse racing enthusiasts who’d recently been within the geographic boundaries of Michigan’s Northville Downs racetrack; NASCAR fans who’d recently been to the Michigan International Speedway; and individuals who’d recently visited any Michigan casino.
Outdoors, gas station video ads played more than 12 million times at more than 1,500 locations while Michiganders fuel up throughout the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Digital billboards played more than 1.8 million times and delivered more than 19 million impressions across 226 locations in the Lower Peninsula.
Throughout the campaign, beautifully branded creative and hand-picked tactics delivered an engaged digital audience to DontRegretTheBet.com. The information-rich, branded, and lightly animated website keeps users interested with information that’s easy to consume, understand and act on. King developed a simple quiz, interactive gamifications, and links to downloadable resources that get information into the hands of those who need it (while adding to our data collection).
King continually monitored, analyzed and optimized the multi-channel branding and marketing campaign for maximum results across five designated market areas (DMAs): Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Lansing and Grand Traverse.
The campaign has produced impressive results in its first year, surpassing industry standards and achieving significant added value for the MGCB. “The campaign continues to exceed our expectations and established benchmarks, so we know that it’s having an impact,” shares Sandra Johnson, responsible gaming section manager. Results are detailed in the attached campaign report, with select highlights below.
Broadcast media included consistent schedules in all five DMAs. Television stations aired our commercials more than 6,000 times; local radio stations played the “Lineman” and “Skydiving” audio spots over 9,000 times (with 10% bonus); and the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Public Education Program radio schedule included no-charge spots for $225,000 in added value, representing more than a 4:1 return on investment for MGCB. Strategic placements include March Madness ads that aired 150 times during the live broadcast, plus 50 bonus spots; NCAA and NFL football games showed 200 spots (including 113 bonus); and the Women’s World Cup aired 17 in-game and 42 bonus spots.
OTT television reached 630,000 viewers consuming long-form video content with over 5 million impressions. Ad-supported streaming radio reached more than 740,000 people with more than 6 million impressions, and podcast advertising resulted in 2.5 million impressions reaching more than a million listeners.
In six months, six unique Facebook campaigns cumulatively delivered more than 24 million impressions, reached more than 4 million people, generated more than 63,000 website sessions and 453 downloads.
Website analytics for DontRegretTheBet.com reports more than 68,615 total sessions by 57,416 unique users.