KBIC hires Minneapolis ad firm to promote casinos

Daily Mining Gazette file photo Ojibwa Casinos General Manager Don Wren convinced the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to hire a new advertising agency. He is pictured on the left with KBIC councilmen Rodney Loonsfoot, R.D. Curtis and Fred Dakota.

BARAGA — Keweenaw Bay Indian Community will rehire a Minnesota advertising agency to promote its casinos in Baraga and Marquette.

Ojibwa Casinos General Manager Don Wren recommended the tribe hire the Red Circle agency of Minneapolis to coordinate advertising for both the Ojibwa Casino in Baraga and the Ojibwa II in Marquette. Red Circle worked for the tribe a few years ago.

“I truly do believe these are the right people to go with,” he told the KBIC Tribal Council Thursday. “We want to make sure they’re in sync with where we want to go. I think they’re a pretty sophisticated group. You want your brand well cared for, well developed.”

Since being hired last year, Wren has focused on maximizing the tribe’s $40 million investment in its casinos. The tribe is spending $6.5 million on the Ojibwa Casino in Baraga and $33.5 million on the Ojibwa II in Marquette to renovate and expand both facilities.

In addition, the council approved spending an additional $2 million to cover infrastructure improvements in Baraga at the hotel, restaurant, casino and bar to ensure the new complex functions well.

The new ad agency comes at a higher price than what advertising had cost, but Wren said revenues should begin to increase within a couple months, indicating Red Circle’s success.

“I would certainly expect revenue to go up,” Wren said. “(By) June … we should start to see some short-term effects.”

Red Circle charges $23,500 a month for its services. The tribe had been paying nearly $19,693 per month to three companies for advertising and promotions.

“It’s a difficult market up here,” said KBIC President Chris Swartz, noting how much smaller the Upper Peninsula market is than other casinos Red Circle has promoted.