Southland Park Gaming and Racing’s recent marketing campaign in the Arkansas, Tennessee, north Mississippi area have been often-discussed in Mississippi gaming circles.
The television ads for the West Memphis, Ark., racetrack and casino incorporated negative Mississippi stereotypes. The ads advise viewers “Don’t Risk the Road Trip.” They depict dangers such as a traveler being chased by a chainsaw killer after suffering a flat tire, and a traveler being assaulted by inmates after being tossed in jail for speeding in on Mississippi roads.
“They’re not anti-Mississippi ads,” Bobbi Jones, senior director of marketing at Southland, said Thursday at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi. “I live in Mississippi!
“We like to make sure we handle our advertising where it’s getting people’s attention.
“We’ve wanted to make sure we did something that was fun and got people’s attention and had a good time. That’s how we’ve been advertising since 2007. We’ve always been on the edge a little bit.
Her counterpart on the the Marketing Roundtable panel discussion would differ.
“There’s a line,” said LuAnn Pappas, regional vice president of marketing for Caesars Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s in Tunica. “We all want something creative and compelling, but that crossed the line.”
Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association, who considered the ads offensive, said in remarks Wednesday that Mississippi is fighting back.
“We’re trying to tackle that with, not a tit-for-tat approach, but with more positive ads about Mississippi,” said Gregory. “Plus, Tunica casinos are giving away $1 million every weekend.