2013 Sherpie Award Winners


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During our Social Media Boot Camp at G2E 2013, we were proud to present the 4th Annual Sherpie Awards in 11 distinguished categories. Produced by Masterminds and Global Gaming Business, these are the only awards in the country that honor creative and strategic excellence in casino social media marketing.

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2013 Sherpie Award Winners

  1. 1. T H E 4 t h A N N U A L O F F I C I A L WINNERS BOOK & P R E S E N T E D B Y
  2. 2. & P R E S E N T E D B Y ©MASTERMINDS2013 And the winners are... T H E 4 t h A N N U A L 2013 has been a remarkable year for the social media efforts of the casino industry, with properties all across the country raising the bar on their strategies, creativity and results. They have proven once again that social media is a truly indispensable tool capable of reaching consumers, creating genuine relationships and achieving measurable results. It’s no wonder that when the call for the 4th Annual Sherpie Awards went out this year, a record number of entries flooded in. With over 100 casinos across the country under review, it was no easy task to judge their efforts in 11 categories and we commend all who submitted their initiatives. It is a distinct pleasure to congratulate all of the winners showcased on the following pages. They truly deserve a round of applause in celebration – or should we say Likes, Favorites, Hearts and Pins. We hope the following pages inspire all our readers and can’t wait to see what is created next year. So without further ado, we proudly present the winners of the 2013 Sherpie Awards.
  3. 3. 3 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best App/Interactive Game Monte Carlo Resort and Casino - VIP Factor & VIP Playlist In March of last year, Monte Carlo Resort & Casino launched their VIP campaign, which gave guests of the resort an opportunity to live the good life. They installed a supplemental interactive Facebook application entitled What’s Your VIP? that assigned fans a distinctive VIP personality, which won them our 2012 Sherpie Award for Best App / Interactive Game. The casino came back again this year with another extension of their VIP campaign – a phase II of sorts, which continued to celebrate their guests’ unique personalities. Enter VIP Factor, a new application that scanned fans’ profiles to determine how “VIP” they really were. The app asked users to share their definition of VIP treatment. Then the app revealed Facebook activities that made them a VIP, such as keywords in status updates or check- ins. It showed fans where they stacked up against their friends and others that interacted with the app, and even gave them tips to improve their VIP score to earn exclusive perks to keep them coming back for more. As if that wasn’t enough, Monte Carlo upped the ante even further by including another feature on their page. Everyone secretly thinks his/her life deserves a soundtrack, especially someone of VIP stature. Thankfully Monte Carlo also installed another interactive application on their Facebook page called VIP Playlist. Once users connected with the app, it scoped through their Facebook pages and aggregated different information about their musical and general interests – then, based on the information it found, it assigned users one of seven personalized VIP playlists. Each of these playlists was associated with a playful VIP acronym like “Voraciously Intimate Prowler” or “Vacationer Into Pampering.” Once VIPs received their playlists, it encouraged them to actually listen to that playlist on Spotify and share it with their friends (assuming you’d want to share a playlist entitled “Voluptuous Inanimate Pony”). Definitely a reason to press “Play.”
  4. 4. 4 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Facebook Promotion Pinnacle Entertainment: Cheers Photo Caption Contest With the Cheers slot machine making its debut in a wide array of their properties including Belterra, Lumière, Boomtown and L’Auberge Baton Rouge, Pinnacle Entertainment knew it was crucial that the game’s presence be known. So, they raised their glasses (because Cheers jokes mean more alcohol) and developed a multi-property photo caption contest, which awarded free play prizes each week to participants who provided a caption for a humorous scene from Cheers. The promotion was a success across the board, reaching 550 entries and 44,000 impressions in four weeks. Slot Play averaged 254% of the house average, representing the positive guest response and awareness of the exclusive new slot machine at the Pinnacle properties. The Grand Prize – which included a free trip to Boston, Red Sox tickets, travel and hotel accommodations and spending cash – celebrated the home of Cheers and reaffirmed Pinnacle’s brand position, “To be the best casino entertainment company in the world.”
  5. 5. 5 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of a New/Emerging Platform Barona Casino: Vine In an effort to keep people confused as often as possible, social media is always evolving, so this year we created a category for those up-and-coming platforms that are so recent the baby boomers haven’t ruined them yet. Vine is a mobile application owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post six-second video clips. Having debuted only this past January, it quickly became one of the most widely used video-sharing applications in the market with 40 million registered users and counting. Vine’s unique appeal is tied to the challenge of creating something entertaining solely by shooting inside the app without having access to previously recorded videos or special effects. Barona Casino is an early adopter of this new platform. With a growing 120 followers and 40 video compilations, they’re showing a lot of character in just six seconds. Not only do they post their own videos every couple of days, but they also search for and share/“re-vine” videos from people who use hashtags related to their casino. In doing so, Barona brings extra attention to all of the positive experiences other people are having related to gaming, dining, events or anything else worth sharing from around their casino.
  6. 6. 6 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of Instagram Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas While most of us use Instagram to catalogue what we had for dinner or to take shameless selfies, Marquee Las Vegas uses Instagram to give guests an inside look at what goes on within the club walls. For them, it’s the perfect digital avenue to publish photos that showcase their parties, performers and other fun happenings around the casino. With a growing 30,000 followers and 630 photos posted so far, they’re really setting the bar for other casinos as a successful user of the visual platform. Not only are they an early adopter of using Instagram video to show performances and more, but they also host “Instagram takeovers,” in which celebrities and other guests coming to the club get to post photos on Marquee’s Instagram page during their appearance. These takeovers are denoted by interesting graphic icons, which are placed on the photo so followers can distinguish from where the photos are coming. What’s more, they’ve even run hashtag contests, in which they asked followers to share their most reckless moment in Vegas. Participants simply had to share their story/photo on Instagram and use the hashtag #RECKLESSINVEGAS for a chance to win an overnight stay, VIP table, celebrity meet-and-greet and swag package. Police have never made so many arrests so easily. Just kidding. The hashtag was used over 600 times. Another contest they ran over the summer asked followers to Instagram a photo that showed why they loved summer and use the hashtag #MQSummerLovin for a chance to win tickets to see an upcoming performer each week, with the grand prize being a ticket package to all 24 shows of the summer. All of their photos and videos get a significant amount of interaction, with comments and likes well into the double and triple digits, respectively. No filter necessary for this Instagram presence.
  7. 7. 7 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of Pinterest L’Auberge Casino Resort – Lake Charles Although Pinterest has yet to be adopted by many brands other than those affiliated with knitting and baking, L’Auberge Casino Resort in Lake Charles knows what they’re doing when it comes to being pinteresting. Most importantly, L’Auberge Casino uses their presence for more than just shameless self-promotion – they also have many fun boards such as holiday tips and tricks, art décor, projects and other things to do in the Louisiana area. The page successfully represents everything the casino has to offer, including hotel amenities, entertainment, gaming and dining. However they also take the time to interact with patrons by repining and liking items from others’ boards and following those who follow them. L’Auberge even turned to Pinterest during the Valentine’s Day season to help spread the love. By creating a pin- to-win contest called Legendary Romance*, the casino aimed to gain new followers and show that their casino was the perfect romantic getaway resort, complete with various amenities. To enter, participants first followed the casino and created a board called “L’Auberge Wish List.” Then they re-pinned images from the casino’s “Wish List” board based on what they would prefer to experience. Options included food, beverage, clothing, accessories, entertainment and more. Lastly, participants submitted the URLs of their newly created wish list boards and were entered for a chance to win dinner and a hotel stay at the property. The more photos people pinned, the more entries they received, which encouraged people to stay on the casino’s Pinterest page longer and expose themselves to everything there is to love about L’Auberge around Valentine’s Day. With 22 boards, nearly 700 pins and over 400 followers, this casino is at the top of the Pinterest leader“board.” ¬*This promotion was hosted prior to Pinterest changing their promotions guidelines, so we let them slide.
  8. 8. 8 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of Twitter Palms Casino Resort: #Ditch4Vegas Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas needed a way to promote their Ditch Pool & Dayclub, a venue that encourages you to skip work and start the weekend early (something we at Masterminds are exceedingly good at). The ingenious solution? Run a contest. Like all great contests, this one rewarded bad behavior. It was hosted on Twitter, dubbed #Ditch4Vegas, and asked followers to tweet their best sick day excuse to @Palms with the hashtag #Ditch4Vegas. This entered participants for a chance to win a one-night stay in their Premier Rooms and receive a free cabana by the pool. It was an effective, honest and hilarious way to spread the word about Ditch Pool & Dayclub while also boosting overall attendance (though we’re pretty sure it resulted in some job openings as well – Dave will be missed). They even pulled the hashtag feed onto their Facebook page to enhance cross-promotion. Palms is quite a customer-service champion on Twitter as well, frequently interacting with followers via @mentions, @replies and retweets. They’ve sent almost 10,000 tweets and have over 80,000 followers. #Awesome.
  9. 9. 9 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of Video Pechanga Resort & Casino: Plants vs. Zombies California Slot Premiere It’s a little known fact that the only thing zombies like more than brains is gambling – something Pechanga Resort & Casino illustrated beautifully when they found out Plants vs. Zombies was making its California debut at their property. Plants vs. Zombies is a computer video game created in 2009, whose fun theme and graphics made it one of the most popular video games to date, so much so that it was adapted into a slot machine. In response, Pechanga’s social media team made a video to die for. The concept of the video was to show Pechanga’s guests gambling, dancing at a concert, golfing, eating – all the things guests normally would do at the casino – except among the guests, plants and zombies also enjoyed themselves. The video, which took four full days of shooting and over three weeks of post-production, was posted on Pechanga’s YouTube channel, in-room televisions and digital on-property signage. Pechanga involved fans via social media in multiple ways to help promote the slot machine debut. They uploaded a “Making of Plants vs. Zombies” video to their YouTube channel, which received over 7,000 views alone, and posted behind-the-scenes Instagram photos and tweets to build further excitement for the machine’s launch. Facebook fans were given the opportunity to tell Pechanga why they wanted to be in their next YouTube video for the chance to actually be an extra. The week of the video’s debut, Pechanga also unleashed a Facebook promotion that encouraged fans to come in and try out the new game. In addition, once the post reached 700 shares, Pechanga responded by awarding the first 250 people to play Plants vs. Zombies with $20 a piece (which was claimed within six minutes). Since the video’s debut in March, it’s accumulated over five million views, making it the most watched YouTube video known to the casino industry. Plants vs. Zombies continues to flourish on Pechanga’s floor, well above house average. (No plants or zombies were harmed in the production of this video, though human casualties number somewhere in the thousands…)
  10. 10. 10 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of Social for Public Relations Mardi Gras Casino: 25th Annual Toys in the Sun Run Few things make an event blow up better than social media (other than free beer). In December, Mardi Gras Casino hosted the start of the annual Toys in the Sun Run, an annual motorcycle parade that attracts over 30,000 motorcyclists from across the U.S., whose proceeds benefit the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation in Hollywood, Florida. Not only did Mardi Gras aim to support a great cause, they also hoped to promote their offerings to out-of-state bikers, tourists and locals throughout Florida and increase customer retention with parade attendees. Mardi Gras used a variety of integration to spread the word. Traditional tactics included print ads, billboards, TV spots, web graphics, brochures, direct mail, e-blasts and a dedicated web page. Their social efforts on the day of the event also created an impact with substantial reach via an interactive Facebook photo contest, SMS and check-in campaigns, blogs, frequent posts on Facebook, Twitter and a YouTube video. After all, nothing satisfies a biker more than a selfie with his baby’s new muffler he installed last Tuesday. The best part – Mardi Gras exceeded their goals, earning over $600,000 for the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation. They gained 2,300 fans during the event, with over 1,000 participants in their Facebook photo contest. They also achieved a 24 percent increase in Player’s Club signups. Vroom, vroom.
  11. 11. 11 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Use of Social for Customer Service The Mirage Hotel & Casino: Reputation Management Social media is a great tool for managing customer service, and guest satisfaction is one of the main focuses of The Mirage Hotel & Casino’s social efforts. Their philosophy is to empathize by putting themselves in the shoes of their guests, to share in their excitement or internalize a negative experience and make it better. They even perfected the art of taming the dreaded social media troll (that bastard). When it comes to providing exceptional customer service through any social outlet, The Mirage is simply one of the best. They took home a Sherpie Award in 2010 for stellar customer service, and they continue to raise the bar year after year. They do a fantastic job catering to happy and unhappy customers alike on both Twitter and Facebook. In addition, they offer daily tips and take the time to personally respond to each and every patron, ensuring all voices are heard. Their social media team also does a great job of managing their TripAdvisor account to stimulate organic conversations and to respond to both positive and negative feedback, in order to provide the best possible experience for their patrons and uphold their reputation. Each of their responses is personalized, conversational and human, making people feel valued and likely getting them to return to the property. Customer service is becoming an increasingly prominent tool on social media, and it’s one of the most important aspects of building a strong community – especially for the gaming industry (also, angry patrons are just a whole lot easier to deal with over the interwebz).
  12. 12. 12 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best Online-Meets-Offline Promotion Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Borgata Turns 10 Unlike Internet dating, Borgata’s offline persona holds up to their online one. This year, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City celebrated their 10th anniversary. To kick off the celebration, they planned a week full of promotions and events on property, including a concert featuring The Roots, Jill Scott, Slash and Aziz Ansari, a quarter-million dollar poker tournament, a t-shirt giveaway for all Borgata card holders and a $500,000 cash giveaway, where anybody who inserted a card into a slot machine or open table game during an allotted time was eligible. If people weren’t able to make it on-property to celebrate, the casino installed an app on their Facebook page, offering some major perks – a $100,000 giveaway in which 10 winners would win a $10,000 prize package over 10 weeks. To participate, fans simply had to “Like” the page, take a one-question poll and register for their chance to win. Fans that came back each day and re-entered increased their chances of winning. An in-app timeline that featured influential events that happened at the Borgata over the past decade further promoted the anniversary and related events. Happy birthday, Borgata. No need to make a wish when you blow out the candles this year since you already won your Sherpie.
  13. 13. 13 BEST OF 2013 SHERPIE AWARDS 2013 © MASTERMINDS 2013 Best in Show Pechanga Resort & Casino Pechanga Resort & Casino’s social media is unlike any other in the casino industry, which shows through their numerous Sherpie Award nominations and trophies thus far (we’ve also heard that they have leather-bound books and their casino smells of rich mahogany). With over 260,000 Facebook fans (and counting), only a few large Las Vegas properties can claim to have a bigger Facebook audience than the California casino. But what’s most impressive about Pechanga’s social media is the level of engagement they receive – their posts receive record amounts of interaction from fans in terms of likes, shares and comments, setting the bar even higher for gaming and non-gaming brands alike. According to Pechanga Social Media Strategist, Cary Conrady, “The number of Facebook fans is not as important as the amount of engagement. If none of your Facebook fans are looking at or caring about what you’re posting, then in reality you have zero followers, not 260,000. We are more focused on building an ongoing relationship and a strong community of fans online.” Facebook isn’t Pechanga’s only social media muscle – their mastery of this field is also evident on their Twitter page. Whereas many casinos still use Twitter as an advertising platform to blast their marketing messages, Pechanga instead uses the platform to interact with fans and reply to them personally. Furthermore, they have an active community of users on Instagram – with over 700 followers and 200 photos, they’re really leaving a mark – Pechanga’s cover photo on Facebook includes Instagram photos to enhance cross promotion. Although photos that Pechanga posts on Facebook are also posted on Instagram, the casino makes sure they’re optimized for each platform. Perhaps one of the most unique facets of Pechanga’s social media efforts is their use of video, which won them a Sherpie Award two years in a row. Their video production has continually broken through the clutter to provide a truly unique and engaging way to both educate and entertain guests. “Your content has to take into account the audience and the outlet – knowing your audience and really, really, really knowing your social media sites is what leads to a solid social media presence,” Conrady continued. Overall, Pechanga’s social presence has proven time and time again that each medium is about genuine interaction with a company – one that isn’t interested in just coming off as a faceless corporation selling marketing messages. We applaud Pechanga for their continued success on social media and look forward to what they do next. (And to think – they did it all with minimal cat pictures.)
  14. 14. Work produced or consulted on by Masterminds was not eligible to win a Sherpie Award. Masterminds is a full-service advertising and branding agency, with 27 years of experience in the casino industry. We’re proud to have worked with clients in nearly every jurisdiction across the country, while having an inappropriate amount of fun, helping to bring creative ideas to life across traditional, experiential and of course social media. We invite you to check us out and feel free to call, write or send a note via carrier pigeon if you’d like to continue the conversation. The Sherpie Awards, produced by Masterminds and Global Gaming Business, honor creative and strategic excellence in casino social media marketing. The awards started as a giddy expression of our unbridled affection for great social media—and an excuse to invite its brightest practitioners to share with all of us. In its 4th year, the Sherpie Award has become the highly-coveted, must-have desk accessory for casino social media nerds across the country. PHILADELPHIA | ATLANTIC CITY 609.484.0009 www.mastermindsagency.com
  15. 15. T H E 4 t h A N N U A L PHILADELPHIA | ATLANTIC CITY 609.484.0009 www.mastermindsagency.com