Since the formation of the OBDF, it was clear that the industry suffered from a lack of independent provincial market information and analysis. OBDF had to clearly understand the needs it would have to meet and the opportunities ahead of it before developing any new marketing strategy.
To that end, OBDF engaged Pollara Research, one of the nation’s top public opinion and marketing research firms to better understand current and potential customers and what they sought in a bingo experience. From January to August, three influential reports were delivered:
Understanding Bingo in the Broader Ontario Landscape;
In-Depth Bingo Market Study Among Current, Lapsed, and Potential Bingo Players;
Assessing the Cross-Border Bingo Market.
These reports provided valuable information in identifying the size and composition of the current and potential player base, motivations and barriers to play, misconceptions about bingo, what game and facility improvements could enhance the experience, and key messages that might encourage non-players to consider trying the game. What continued to ring out loud and clear were the elements of being social, having fun and being with friends. So OBDF went to work to reposition charitable bingo in the public’s mind.
Building a Brand Identity
A consistent theme emerged throughout the research process: there was an absolute need to create a more positive image for charitable bingo. The first step in this branding exercise had to be uncovering the core essence of charitable bingo so that it could be branded for the public. That essence was: “sharing, caring fun”. It’s that perfect mix of good fun for a good cause.
Bingo is truly unique. It offers timeless fun, an entertaining experience and an opportunity to socialize with friends. It brings generations of people together for a good time – from the young to the young-at-heart. Bingo also gives people across Ontario the ability to come together and support their communities, as a portion of all proceeds are directed to local charities.
Having developed a strategic framework, OBDF engaged an advertising agency to create a new brand identity for charitable bingo. The new brand is called Gametime Bingo, with the tagline “Have Fun. Feel Good.” The new brand was tested and endorsed through focus group research conducted in various representative markets across the province during the month of August.
Focus group participants associated the identity with a sense of fun and playfulness, but without being immature. It evoked excitement and anticipation, both of which are apt emotions for the Bingo experience. The identity was seen as having a wholesome or family element which makes the game seem more open and welcoming to newcomers. Meanwhile, the clean, modern look for the brand evoked feelings of a fresh updated game which had the potential to attract new players. Perhaps most important of all, the identity was equally appealing to both current and potential player segments.
And so the branding exercise was underway. Gametime Bingo was the new branding platform for charitable bingo gaming in Ontario. It’s a new name; it’s a new brand; and it’s a new opportunity to identify bingo as a great entertainment choice while supporting local charities. Now the brand has to be promoted throughout the province.
Revving up the Fun
To support the brand launch, a province-wide multimedia advertising and promotional campaign began on November 9, 2009. The campaign invited both current and potential players to “spend some time with your fun side”, through Gametime Bingo. The campaign was based on the insight that all of us have a fun side.
The campaign included television, radio and online banner advertising – with the latter linking to a brand new website, gametimebingo.ca, where visitors are be able to learn more about charitable bingo in Ontario and locate a nearby centre. A comprehensive public relations campaign complemented the paid media efforts, targeting both top-tier and local media outlets with stories of interest.
In addition to those tactics, newspaper and direct mail creative was produced and made available to bingo centres who may wish to use their local marketing budgets to supplement, or extend, the OBDF campaign. All of these activities supported an exciting new contest upon which the brand was launched.
The Rev Up the Fun contest was a first for the industry, as 51 OBDF-member bingo centres simultaneously gave away a red 2010 Dodge Charger SE Sedan. The cars, all built locally at the Brampton Chrysler plant were given away on Saturday, December 19 at a key ceremony. The contest generated attention for the new bingo brand and provided a great additional incentive for new players to give bingo a try, though there was no purchase required to enter the promotion.
Despite the progress made this year, the OBDF has adopted a disciplined approach to all of its efforts to date – and the current marketing campaign is no exception. A thorough post-campaign evaluation will be conducted and will measure impressions generated in the market (from the paid and earned media), changes in awareness levels, visits to the website, and changes in attendance (compared to last year) at participating bingo centres. This evaluation will inform future OBDF plans and decision-making aimed at continuing to build charitable bingo in Ontario.
At the time of going to print with this article, the campaign had just entered the market, and initial feedback from those participating suggests that the industry is energized by this initiative and optimistic about the potential of the Ontario Bingo Development Fund.
By the OBDF Board of Directors