How do you cut through the noise in a vertical built on over-the-top, flashy marketing? By flipping the script and producing a credible, high-end campaign that’s on a whole ‘nother level. When it came time to create a new integrated campaign for Gila River Resorts & Casinos, that's exactly what we set out to do. We utilized a rather unreal tool—and one that is rarely used in gaming marketing—animation. We combined live-action with animated accents to uniquely express the brand’s individuality, personality, and diversity. Let’s take a look at how we brought this campaign to life.
Gila River Resorts & Casinos, a tribal gaming enterprise in Arizona, has experienced consistent growth over the past few years, recently opening their fourth location in Gilbert, AZ. To keep that momentum going, they challenged our team to create a campaign that would bring in a younger audience. Unfortunately for the gaming industry and Gila River Resorts & Casinos, gaming alone isn’t always enough to draw in those younger audiences. However, we know they do value experiences, inclusivity, and creating memories.
To play off of Gila River’s long-running “You Do You” campaign, we wanted to create an invitation to come as you are and be who you want to be that focuses on allowing visitors to express their individuality. The goal was to show Gila River as a diverse, upbeat, and playful spot for younger adults to create memories.
To visualize this concept, we decided to take an animated approach, combining real life images and videos with animated design. Visually, the animations bring the energy and electricity we were looking to add, further highlighting the individuality and inclusivity that visitors should feel when they enter one of Gila River’s resorts. With a solid strategy and concept in place, it was time to get started.
Making It Happen
We knew that with an integrated animated campaign, production and execution were going to be of the utmost importance. To get it right, we needed to find the right partners.
Production and Animation
With film and animation at the core of this campaign, world-class production houses were at the top of our wish list—and Scholarwas a perfect fit. Their experience with global brands such as Target, Google, AMD, Amazon Halo, and KFC, along with their understanding of the concept qualified their team to join us on this campaign.
Immediately, Scholar was on board with the concept and their team was as excited as we were to bring animation to the gaming industry. However, the first step was to make sure that the focus was on telling the story and supplementing with animation in a purposeful way. Our direction was to push the camera to match the energy, following the hero and moving constantly, just like real life feels. This way, the camera felt more like a character, guiding the viewer through the lobby, the pool, the casino, and the restaurants, ultimately highlighting those young, diverse, and upbeat individuals.
Speaking of, our younger audience needed to see themselves in the campaign, so when it came to casting, we focused on genuine, relatable, and diverse characters between 25 and 35 years old. We wanted to show real people who represent our target audience, but who also feel elevated, dynamic, and a bit glamorized.
Once pre-production was complete, it was time to shoot. After four days of on-site Steadicam, drone, and still photography shots (and hair, make-up, wardrobe, and snacks from the craft services table), we captured everything we needed to round out the campaign. Then it was time to add the magic—animation. From the get-go, we determined the need for the animation to be sophisticated and polished: less child-like and more mature. We utilized those mature embellishments by adding eccentric and eye-catching movements with pops of color and illustrations of the You Do You brand platform.
With the look and feel captured, we needed to determine what the campaign would sound like—which started with choosing the right song.
As the anthem of the campaign, the song needed to express the feeling of entering one of Gila River’s locations. It needed to bring energy, be memorable, and have a beat that could flow with the camera movements and animation. After searching (and searching, and searching) our team found the perfect song: Attention by Outasight. Its lyrics exemplify the Gila River experience (“Legendary status, no one does it better / Pay attention! Eyes on me”) and checked all of our boxes.
We brought on 750MPH out of London for sound and mix design, who remixed the original song to flow with the video, in addition to producing and editing sound. With a campaign this size, we knew we needed the best when it came to sound design, and 750MPH has worked with clients world-wide, winning awards on their projects with IKEA, Honda, Army, The Guardian, Nike, and more.
To finalize the campaign, Company3 came in on telecine to amplify the visual look and feel. If you’ve seen a movie, TV show, or Super Bowl ad recently, chances are that Company3 had a part in their picture finishing and color. Knowing we wanted to make a splash with this campaign, we added their award-winning commercial colorists to our team.
The final product? Two (pretty cool) multi-channel video spots that highlight Gila River’s unique brand and welcome a younger audience through playful animation and sound. Our last step was to extend the campaign, providing multiple touchpoints to our target audience.
Put Me On A Poster
In addition to the two spots, we wanted to develop an integrated campaign, so we made sure to capture assets that could be utilized in out-of-home advertising. The same animated looks were applied to still shots taken while on the shoot that were being sized and placed on billboards, in magazines, and on property signage. Digitally, we utilized both :30, :15, and :06 video, as well as still photography, on their website, and organic and paid social media. Not only that, we created an augmented reality filter on Instagram that can only be used within a mile of Gila River Resorts & Casinos.
The campaign was a perfect way to bring a fresh spin on the You Do You platform, with individuality, personality, elevation, and inclusivity at the forefront. It was a team effort, and our incredible international team came together to make it happen.