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SCCG Research: The evolution of the Vegas brand ambassador

Below, SCCG Research partners with Gambling Insider to provide an exclusive excerpt of its new report, where it examines the history of social media brand ambassadors and how this knowledge can help us effectively harness digital influencers today.

exclusive sccg vegas brand ambassador

Brand Ambassadors and Influencers -  then and now

Brand ambassadors and influencers may seem like new social media inventions. Still, to many long-time Las Vegas operators, they feel like a democratised repackaging of old casino marketing strategies into something new.

In the early days of Las Vegas, operators like the Sands needed big moves to pull the world's attention to a lonely spot in the middle of the deserts of Southern Nevada.

One of those moves was to import the most dazzling stars of the entertainment world to their casinos. They reached their audiences not just in their showrooms but also on the casino floor, in their beautiful ballrooms and their restaurants. Once they established regular contracts with the casinos, these entertainers became brand ambassadors before the term existed.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. were famous singers and actors. Peter Lawford was an actor and President John F. Kennedy's brother-in-law. Joey Bishop was a comedian and tenured talk show host on NBC and CBS. With their powers combined, they were famously The Rat Pack. After the day shift, it was well known that gamblers could interact with the Rat Pack and their entertainment peers, such as Jerry Lewis, Steve Lawrence, Shirley MacLaine, Shecky Greene and Don Rickles, each big names in their own rights.

Once they established regular contracts with the casinos, these entertainers became brand ambassadors before the term existed

Jack Entratter, with all of his darker moments in history, was also known as "Mr. Entertainment." He created a natural center of gravity at the Sands through his headliners at the Sands Copa Room -powered by its strategic co-opting of the media with nearly 150 guests from the news media and entertainment world at the property's go-live.

Entratter brought Sinatra to the Sands several times a year, weeks at a time, and in return Sinatra brought high rollers with him who would famously leave as soon as Sinatra did. Entratter captured these gambling influencers for the Sands by paying their fees and giving their most significant regulars points in the casino - ownership shares in the operation - to them.

When Sinatra ultimately broke his contract with the Sands to go to Caesars Palace (because the Sands closed his line of credit), it made the New York Times - perhaps because, rather than his usual limo at the porte-cochère, Sinatra exited the Sands via a golf cart through a window.

How do we keep our brands connected to our customers without letting our ambassadors and influencers eclipse us?

This dynamic is still an issue today with operators and their relationships with influencers and brand ambassadors, from the tactical day-to-day influencers in our executive host programmes to our newer social media-facing brand ambassadors. How do we keep our brands connected to our customers without letting our ambassadors and influencers eclipse us? How do we manage the relationship with our highest value players when the day-to-day interaction between them and our operation is their favorite host, who is the face of the flow of their comps and gifts?

Nothing about the rise of digital brand ambassadors and social media influencers is new, and everything we learned about effectively and appropriately harnessing these valuable assets to support our operations is still relevant. What we can't do is allow the repackaging of the digital and social media movers to drop our ability to think critically and act strategically - "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" - the more things change, the more they stay the same.

You can read the full report at SCCG research, released tomorrow.

* Citations and references are available in the full report


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