Lucky Buckeye Company (Miami Valley Gaming)

Canadian Success on The Global Stage (SILVER)

Client Credits: Miami Valley Gaming
Deborah Murray, VP of Marketing
Domenic Mancini, President & General Manager
Rob Swedinovich, Sr. Director of Marketing
Jerry Abner, Director of Marketing
Pat Shaw, Advertising Manager
Taylor Gilliam, Promotions Manager

Agency Credits: Marshall Fenn
Daniel Couto, Co-Creative Director
Mike Vinakmens, Co-Creative Director
Daejoon Kim, Junior Art Director
Kelly O'Neill, Junior Writer
Jim Kabrajee, Partner, CEO
Lesley Dikeos, Account Director
Roberta Weisbrot, Account Executive
Tammy Silny, Media Director
Clare Cashman, Producer
Lisa Moore, Producer
Craig Brownrigg, Director
Gill Gardner, Producer
Radke Films
Sonic Kore


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):January 2014-December 2014
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: November 18, 2013
Base Period as a Benchmark: N/A

a) Overall Assessment

When Miami Valley Gaming planned the launch of a new racino (racetrack/casino), they had to quickly burrow to the core of life along Ohio's Miami River, halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati. Both of these Midwestern U.S. cities, only an hour apart, had established casinos with national brand names that were much larger in size and had many more amenities than Miami Valley Gaming, due to open halfway between. Competitive gaming reports confirmed that the Ohio gaming market was becoming saturated. 

Ohio already had seven casinos with three new racinos expected in 2014. By the end of 2014, there would be nine casinos within Miami Valley's competitive set, six of them within a fifty-five mile radius.

The issue for Miami Valley Gaming was how to launch and sustain a smaller, local casino amid the aggressive marketing efforts of established national brands, Horseshoe and Hollywood. Those properties are full-scale casinos with table games, universal reward cards, hotels, entertainment, and national ad budgets. Succeeding with a slots-only property while sandwiched between two big casino brands required a positioning that would not only stand out, but change the established behavior of local patrons to favour Miami Valley Gaming.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

To generate an overall approximate annual revenue of $100,000,000 and create awareness for a small racino (racetrack/casino) that would make Ohioans choose Miami Valley Gaming over the bigger, well-known casinos. 

They also wanted to drive MVG Club (player membership rewards) acquisitions with a goal of 50,000 sign-ups in the first year.

c) Annual Media Budget
$3 - $4 million

d) Geographic Area
Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio

a) Analysis and Insight

Miami Valley Gaming, as a new source of local entertainment and a fledgling brand, started as an underdog. It was up to us to ensure a strong launch with a brand that would truly differentiate.

We conducted one-on-one interviews, focus groups and quantitative market analysis to help provide insight for the market positioning and brand differentiators.

Miami Valley Gaming's competitors were national chains and had the advantage of superior amenities (i.e. table games, hotels, universal reward cards, properties in Las Vegas and national gaming experiences). But, consumer research indicated that market perceptions were blurred. Their brands were virtually interchangeable, offering the "proxy vegas' gaming experience.

Our research revealed that the market would be receptive to a different kind of casino. One that was in touch with the values of Ohioans - their independence, uniqueness and their fierce love of all things Ohioan. They didn't want Vegas. They wanted an entertainment option they could 'own' and feel proud of.

As a result, we positioned MVG as 'Ohio's casino'. This was the foundation on which we began to build a brand that was welcoming, entertaining, exciting, yet accessible and homegrown. It was these special qualities of Ohio that anchored our learnings and helped direct our focus to local lore.

Ohio is known as The Buckeye State, and many Ohioans refer to themselves as "Buckeyes".  Further research revealed an acorn-like nut from the state tree, Aesculus glabra, commonly known as the Ohio buckeye, is a symbol of good luck to Ohioans. 

It was that one central idea, that single theme that would influence every aspect of our campaign - that the state symbol, a source of local identity and pride, was also a symbol of luck. 

b) Communication Strategy

If Miami Valley Gaming was to become Ohio's casino - a friendly, fun, hometown place, we needed to connect Ohioans with our brand story.

Media selections were based on their ability to convey a longer narrative that would not only introduce an exciting new destination, but package it in a way that felt like a home-spun story.

We used television for pre and post launch to set up the concept and drive traffic to the property. Online elements were added to support the concept and add deeper layers to the content - basically anything that couldn't be conveyed in 30 seconds. 

Out-of-home was used to build understanding and believability as well as drive visitation through brand and promotional creative. Various forms of OOH were used from digital and rotary boards, to posters and bus wraps. 

Radio and digital were also used for promotions to drive visitation to the property, enlist them in the MVG Club and get their free lucky buckeye.

We also partnered with state sports teams and local events through sponsorships to become a part of the fabric of the community and reinforce their positioning as the hometown casino. 

a) Media Used

  • Conventional and Cable Television
  • Radio
  • OOH (Billboards and Bus Wraps)
  • Print
  • Website
  • Digital
  • Social Media
  • Place Based (Dayton Airport/Cincinnati Outlet Mall)
  • Community Engagement through various sponsorships
  • On Property Collateral (local sourced food, etc.)

b) Creative Discussion

We started by creating a distinct logo and brand identity based on the architecture and layout of the casino.



To drive the positioning that Miami Valley Gaming is the "local" or hometown casino, we embarked on a significant effort to engage local communities at every possible level.  We reached into the communities by supporting local charities and community events. Helping local charities, hosting community events and supporting local events with more than a cash donation and sitting on community boards reinforced the local message and feel. These included Kinsmen, Cincinnati Reds, Dayton Dragons, Vectren Dayton Airshow, and United Irish of Dayton, to name a few.

We then focused on the local lore....the fact that the buckeye nut is a symbol of good luck to Ohioans.


A brand identity was created with a multi-disciplined campaign featuring two affable characters representing a fictitious company called the Lucky Buckeye Company, whose prime product was to ensure that every buckeye at Miami Valley Gaming was a "lucky buckeye".


For TV, the two unassuming pitch men anchored a series of spots that introduced the casino and delivered the story of The Lucky Buckeye Company and how having a buckeye in your pocket could bring you luck. To support the idea, Miami Valley Gaming offered free buckeyes to patrons at the casino. 

Within a month of the opening, thousands of buckeyes were distributed as part of the campaign to reinforce the Ohio local theme.

Radio and online promotions using our beloved characters and lucky buckeye insight drove revenue and acquisitions with MVG Club members earning “Buckeye Bonus Points” toward free play. One promotion invited gamers to Miami Valley Gaming for a chance to win a 14-karat solid gold buckeye worth more than $5,000 and was such a success we brought it back again in the second quarter.

(Click to show animation)

Jackpot winners were also awarded a lucky buckeye engraved in gold with “Jackpot Winner” and the Miami Valley Gaming logo.

To further drive our "local" positioning, we recommended the client purchase as much local produce and products as possible and market this policy at every opportunity on the casino floor. Very quickly it became obvious that Miami Valley Gaming was a "local" community member.





























Due to the popularity of our launch creative with the lucky buckeyes and our two pitchmen, we brought them back for phase two. The new television spots had them now operating on the casino floor.


Billboards and bus wraps were created to support the lucky buckeye theme and to reinforce our brand character as the "local" Ohio casino. These examples of OOH are consistent with the brand character of welcoming, entertaining, and relatable.


(Cincinnati Premium Outlet Sky Banner and Backlit/Billboard along Interstate 75)


(This billboard was created specifically for a well-known, heavily congested area along I-75 ahead of Miami Valley Gaming's exit)


(At entrance to Greene Mall in Miami Township)










(Bus wraps in Cincinnati and Middletown)

We continued to reinforce the positioning through social media channels creating vignette content and posts which engaged Ohioans with the popular lucky buckeye characters and the casino.



The characters from TV were assigned a greater role on property and made appearances at the casino and in the community, attracting a lot of fans and media attention. The brand became famous. Our pitchmen had become celebrities in the Dayton/Cincinnati market. They were introduced to the public "live" by several media outlets and were mobbed for autographs and selfies.

Our positioning was now fully advanced and embraced by our audience.

c) Media Discussion

Miami Valley Gaming launched with two primary objectives for a very competitive market place.  Reach to build high awareness for the brand and high frequency to promote acquisitions (MVG Club Membership sign-up) and drive gamers to the casino.

Markets were Cincinnati and Dayton with additional focus on Dayton to mitigate the opening of three new casinos in 2014, especially Hollywood Casino in Dayton.

Media selection was broad for these two markets in an effort to quickly establish Miami Valley Gaming as Ohio's hometown casino.

a) Sales/Share Results

In their first year of operations, Miami Valley Gaming not only met their objective for revenue, they exceeded it by 25% at $119,588,404, making them the third largest casino amongst their closest competitors.

They also exceeded in tripling their original objective of acquiring 50,000 MVG Club membership sign-ups with just over 150,000 sign-ups. 

In addition, the industry standard of "revenue per slot machine" was second highest in the market at $207 per machine per day. This is an exceptional achievement given that our facility is a racetrack with slots versus national branded, full-scale casinos.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results


c) Other Pertinent Results

Miami Valley Gaming created Ohio's first ever state-wide buckeye shortage.

Within 6 months of opening, Miami Valley Gaming gave out an estimated 40,000 buckeye nuts to welcome patrons with a “lucky buckeye” to put in their pockets, playing off the widely held belief in Ohio that it’s good luck to carry a buckeye in your pocket.