Sex (gulp!) doesn’t always sell

Aug 14, 2006 4:36 AM

Every commercial brand should draw immediate associations in a consumer’s conscience. Gatorade, for instance, is for hard core athletes, Brooks Brothers is THE clothier of the business elite (and "trustafarian" children of the 1%ers), and Coors Light is brewed for manly men who still care about their physique.

Brand positioning for Colorado’s Black Hawk and Central City’s casinos is likewise fundamental. To be successful, a casino has to have a differentiating variable — a hook.

A rule of thumb in marketing is appeal not to whom a person is, but who he perceives himself to be. However, unless one is marketing to individuals with delusions of grandeur, the image portrayal must be somewhat realistic.

It has been proven that in retail, the use of more Rubenesque mannequins to display clothing promotes more buying by women than if clothes are showcased by plastic splinters resembling Kate Moss-type heroin-chic waifs.

Isle of Capri’s recent campaign makes for an interesting case in point of a noble try of innovation but a critical divergence from the all enveloping brand position.

The collateral (i.e., billboards, Duratrans) tag of "Feelin’ Lucky" coupled with a photo of a young couple lying on a bed in their underwear is classic innuendo/entendre. With singles nights, a flair-style Martini/Cigar/Oxygen bar, and a festively themed casino floor, it is evident that the powers-that-be at IOC are trying to gain favor with the highly desirable Generations X and Y.

Unfortunately, the laden ad copy (e.g., "Play your cards right and you could score!") is not reflective of the general ambiance of Isle of Capri. The inferred youthful vigor and associated sexiness are simply not plausible.

Thus, the message does not come across as authentic. Simply put, Isle of Capri is just not sexy. It never has been and never will be sexy. In fact, like Harrah’s, IOC has become quite adept and subsequently successful in serving anything-but-sexy middle aged, middle of the roaders.

When Harrah’s instituted scantily clad "bevertainers" at the Rio who stop serving drinks and perform salacious dances atop daises that would make many an exotic dancer blush, the experience seems contrived and (like the Rio’s floss bikini wearing black jack dealers in the "bikini pit") somewhat sleazy.

If the IOC in Black Hawk truly wants to get down, get jiggly, be in the zone with this sexualized brand image and position, it better start prettying up the place and pump out the old fogie proverbial stench.

With brand positioning, the rule is "one channel, one message." The pathos of Isle of Capri, both at a corporate and individual property level, has been to provide the best gaming experience for its core audience — women who are more hot flashes than red hot night club.

Just because the IOC brings in a dee-jay on the weekends to spin records for a few hours in Kitts, a quasi-tropical mid-range restaurant, this doesn’t make the property sexy.

To be sensually cool, the vibe has to permeate every element of the property.

Warwick Stone, former creative director for the icon of Vegas uber-cool, The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, expressed the sentiment best, "You can’t buy cool. Either you have it or you don’t."

The cool and sexy vibe cannot be manufactured, it must organically develop. To the powers-that-be at IOC, good try ”¦ time to refocus on your core competencies.

(Founded in 1996, Yarborough Planning, LLC partners with select clientele to better understand and address business process issues. Core competencies include providing reliable and valid research, strategic / analytic marketing, and accountable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) development and implementation. David Paster is accepting new clients and may be reached at (702) 813-5062 or [email protected])