John Ferrucci keeps a high profile as the general manager of Silver Slipper Casino on the beach in Hancock County, but he’s probably better known for his Jersey-tinged voice in the casino’s radio and TV commercials.
The ad’s catchy jingle to “Come on down to the Silver Slipper. Pass a good time at the Silver Slipper,” was written by longtime Coast musician Brooks Hubbert.
“It’s become very recognizable,” said Ferrucci who uses only his first name in the ads. “When you see little kids walking around whistling your jingle and people talking about it, you know you’re having some impact.”
When listeners in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi hear the first notes of Hubbert’s jingle, they know John’s about to tell them about the casino’s new promotions. “That’s the way it’s gone for over seven years and we don’t see any reason to change it. It’s been a very effective tool for us,” Ferrucci said.
When people meet him the first time, he said, “They say you must be the guy on the radio. That tells me they’re listening.”
The former CEO of Silver Slipper Gaming, Paul Alanis, borrowed the voiceover idea from his former partner, Jack Binion, who was the voice of Binion’s Horseshoe Gaming in Las Vegas.
“People got to know Jack personally and it personalized their message,” Ferrucci said. “So, Paul looked at me and said, ‘We want you to be the Jack Binion of the Gulf Coast.’”
So when it came time to get their message out, Silver Slipper didn’t turn to the usual marketing tools. “Everybody does mail and that sort of thing, but radio was really one opportunity I saw that I could literally talk to people even though they weren’t sitting there in front of me.”
Ferrucci likes the spots because they’re more personal. “It was very important for us to personalize our approach to our market and our customers and our community. We took that approach from the very beginning: The message would be almost one-on-one. And I just wasn’t shouting stuff with loud music and beating them over the head with our message.”
Ferrucci writes all the spots and records them sitting at his desk and using a small digital recorder.“The marketing team gives me bullet points for the new promotions. I write them and time them and get them to where they make sense.”
If he’s lucky, he gets it recorded on the first try, but most of the time it takes two or three tries.
“I’ll sit right here and rattle it off and if it sounds OK to me then I just download it and send it to our ad agency.”
A radio station mixes the music with the words and Ferrucci listens one more time before the spots are aired. At any given time there are three or four commercials in a rotation and they change quarterly with the promotions.
“We want to make sure they’re not getting bombarded with the same messages and it gets boring,” he said.
Ferrucci has stage experience that helps him with the voiceovers. In his “previous life” as a teacher in New Jersey, he played in a band and did most of the singing.
“We would teach in the day and play weddings on weekends. It supplemented our income.”
Ferrucci said doing the commercials isn’t an effort for him.
“Actually it’s an enjoyable part of my job,” he said. And there’s proof that the ads are working. “I have to be careful what I say because everybody knows it’s me,” he said.
Ferrucci was recently riding in a crowded Superdome elevator during a Saints game when a passenger, a large man, told the elevator operator he wanted to go to the first floor.
“I jokingly said, ‘Take this man wherever he wants to go,’ and he looked over at me and said, ‘Silver Slipper Casino.’ It was the quickest recognition I’ve ever had. We all cracked up.”