Agencies start for different reasons (and yes, agency, sounds like a dirty word – part of the reason we’re not an “agency”): They think they have a different perspective than what’s currently in place. Because they want the freedom to work on a diverse array of projects. Because they think they can do things better than what currently exists. What can I say – we’re here for all those reasons and more.

We realized there was a need for true innovation and expertise in the casino and digital marketing space – and that we had a team unlike any other, who could pioneer, push the envelope, and finally bring to the industry what it’s long been missing.^ But why has such an opportunity not been seized? Social and digital marketing and expertise isn’t cheap. It’s not free (like everyone first believed). It takes investment, and most of all, it takes a team. (Now for the good news.) The best part of all of this? Casinos and industry giants alike can now have access to a team of digital experts and worker bees, for costs comparable to managing a [couple] digital specialists in house. Not to mention, with scale and resources that most in-house marketing dollars can’t budget. Many have already given up on the interactive marketing space, while others are doubling-down their investments. With the advent of online gaming soon to sweep the states, we knew we couldn’t leave our industry behind; so we’ve set out to transform it.

Many other transformations are taking place around our hometown destination of shiny, sin-ny Las Vegas, NV. New investments are being made toward economic diversification and growth; this time focused on the small guys— the small business owners and start-ups of the world. While we may be a different kind of Silicone Valley, we are certainly no longer a place where businesses (of any size) can ignore; we are growing, we are bustling, and we are fighting for our future. Katal’s main focus outside of Vegas’ long-standing bread and butter, is this opportunity ahead of us – helping businesses grow, at the times when it is most vital for them – while they are still the little or just starting guys. In order to do this, we’ve brought together a unique network of talent, tapping into development guns all over the world, from right here in our bright backyard, to halfway around the world. Warning: Ideas, meet your match at cost efficiency and quality never before realized. Furthermore, our team of creative and marketing strategists have garnered access to insights enabling brand building and strengthening, market analysis, and true marketing strategy – often services out of reach or afterthoughts for start ups and small biz. Now, small biz can have access to big agency resources customized just for their truly unique needs.

I am beyond thrilled and honored to be working with people who inspire and drive me. The perfect storm has provided for us to be here and we’re ready to become transformers. What are you waiting for?*

To infinity and beyond,


Lea Artis

^How do we know this? We’ve done it before.

*I don’t think Optimus Prime was much for hesitating. Learn more about our services or contact us. We’d love to hear from you.





Aria Nancy Rubin Art Pop Culture Mass Consciousness Nancy Rubin sculpture in the middle of City Center. Taken on March 26, 2012 by flickr user ercwttmn

These days, you never know where you may find art.

Take the 2013 VMAs for example (MTV’s Video Music Awards aka Miley Cyrus’ twerking carnival and bad girl debut). There were multiple references to modern and classical works, re-enacted or re-created. Complex Magazine has a great wrap up of highlights.

While many people didn’t realize they were being “cultured” to, they certainly can recognize they were being blatantly marketed to. The cool thing about art in this context is it can often pique the interest of young minds who are just tuning in for their favorite artists or to simply witness this mass pop culture conversation moment.

A more direct example of this type of not-so-subtle art subversion is Jay Z’s latest single, “Picasso Baby.” Jay Z’s lyrics often cause conversation – which, it can be argued, is plain good for the art world, regardless of the manner the artists are referenced. In this song, he directly namedrops many notables ranging from, of course, Picasso to the more contemporary Jeff Koons (who is having quite the moment). Koons’ Tulips is currently on display at the Wynn in Las Vegas, and he is also one of the artists referenced at the VMAs. As a perfect example of art pop culture, he’s truly entering a few new spheres – rap, televised music performances with Lady Gaga, and casinos in the city of sin.

This is notable because art’s affinity in the casino industry has long been struggled with in different contexts and companies. Many have started and closed galleries, while some are now taking a more direct approach. Something Sin City has long been absent of.

City Center is taking a bold approach to contemporary art and installations. The latest installation of MGM has quite the collection of large scale works scattered across its properties. In an effort to invigorate the city’s art scene and cultural stature, MGM CEO Jim Murren decided to make an investment in art.

So where does this leave us? Mass consciousness has the ability to be shaped for enrichment beyond just profit. All of these examples somewhat cleverly and not so cleverly incorporate art for the sake of… Inspiration? Profit? Culture? Conversation?

Art has a curious way of finding itself in our lives. Do you think its significance is underplayed by these references? Or are you not interested in it at all? What else could benefit from mass culture subversion?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on what art you’ve noticed in unexpected places these days. Leave us a comment below.





Mobile opportunities challenges

Mobile is the future. Hands down, no denying it. Eventually (already) we’ll be wearing mobile technology all over our bodies – glasses and watches have already debuted.

One of the key areas of growth for online businesses is mobile. For land-based businesses who have yet to enter the online market, it’s the same and then some.

But this is where a fun new catch-22 comes in: We already know mobile devices are pervasive in our every day lives. Whether you’re traveling to work or to the casino, your phone is almost always on you. The catch? Our technology friends have different adversities to mobile casinos existing in their app stores, forcing companies to have stronger distribution channels on their owned online channels.

In addition, these same online companies, not surprisingly, have different levels of comfortability with the new legalization of online gaming in the US. As markets are just starting to debut on the state level, this creates even more challenges for how customers find you, especially when only two companies truly control the mobile ad space. This alone emphasizes the need for a solid earned media strategy, with content at the core of digital, social media, and PR.

Furthermore, mobile is overtaking the time spent on our desktop computers, and it’s now known that digital has also surpassed TV. This is a growing trend and it’s not stopping.

mobile overcoming desktop computers and tb

Specific to casino entertainment, companies will have to understand new ways to distribute their apps to customers, be it direct download from their site or via email, or an HTML5 web client.

For all companies, mobile is a growing strategy that you absolutely CANNOT ignore. Whether you are a mom and pop restaurant down the street or a clothing company, your marketing strategy needs to touch people where they are now spending their most time—especially if you target younger generations of consumers. How do people find you easily? What’s the customer journey via search, social, or an online app? If they find you on their phone, can they buy from you or sign up for news?

Mobile technology also presents unique challenges because of the diverse market place, so building an app isn’t always the easiest or best solution. While mobile opens up opportunities, and arguably, if you’re there first you can hit a home run, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

What excites or scares you most about mobile? What’s the biggest opportunity for your business? Comment below and let us know.




Absolutely empty street in New York early morning

Gaming and casino entertainment, especially in America, has a new, daunting dawn coming—the online and mobile arena of legalized real money gaming.

While online gaming is old hat in some parts of the world, there is still room for an incredible amount of innovation and opportunity in the space. And a flood not quite the size of the Noah’s Ark era will take place starting in November.

(If you’re caught up on your state of the markets opening, licenses available, companies already live, feel free to skip the next four paragraphs.)

While Nevada already has legalized real money poker live and under its belt (and the title for being “first” is sealed and delivered), we can see that market places have a long way to go for maturity. The one lone ranger in the market, Ultimate Poker, is the prime and only example. Ultimate has made incredible headway being first (out of the some 32 companies who’ve applied in Nevada), yet their reality isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and cash cows. It is clearly a tough market for technology development and innovation, but it is an even tougher market for customer attention— even when you’re the only game in town.

Delaware is on the radar to be the next state to debut real money gaming, aiming for the end of October, with their free play partner and offering already available via IGT’s DoubleDown Casino on Facebook. Delaware is unique, in that it has specific and limited vendors already pre-determined both from the land-based and online offering perspectives.

New Jersey lands somewhere in the middle of the two other states with only twelve online licenses up for grabs, and almost all of them accounted for at the time of this writing. That being said, New Jersey is arguably also the market with the largest potential  (in the tune of $1 billion) and will be the last to debut full-fledged real money online gambling this year, scheduled for the end of November.

We know where both the competition and opportunities will come from limited as they may seem to be. And yet, this is only the beginning as many will be watching with baited breath and anxious eyes from neighboring US states.


While everyone realizes this is the next frontier (parallel to international gaming growth), serious conversations need to be had about smart survival. In Europe, the more mature markets have seen companies come and go, swallowed up by the sign-up bonus game, fight for customer loyalty, and, in some cases, prohibitive overhead and tax structures.

Visions of building national brands have faded for now with the allure of federal legislation. Marketing investments have to become more fierce for these state battlegrounds than they ever were in the age of the mid-aughts. It is a new reality we live in, and it’s desperate for new innovation.

It’s no secret that those who build the relationships to have the advertising edge with different media distributors (be it Facebook, Google, an ad network, or lifestyle publication) will get the eyeballs. And maybe a few clicks. But will it get you loyalty and retention? And a profitable, lasting business?

The question casinos have to be asking themselves, is how do they differentiate and with who? What segments of the market are going to be most attractive for them to pursue based on gambling and entertainment budgets, time, and likelihood to play online? What value will these customers have (if any) beyond their transactional accounts? Why do players return to the same casinos, and how do you create a similar experience for them to time and again come back online?

Two older surveys attributed the most important factors for players and gaming site preference to be a combination of trust and financial reward.^ If everyone is going to compete on the same monetary qualities, the only people who will survive are those with the deepest pockets. But, we don’t think that is just the case.

In a world where it’s hard to fight for customer attention, even on your own, what will it be like with 10 others in the space? Where will the customers come from if the competition is flooding in from everywhere?

And how will you create your ark to survive?


A teaser of our thoughts on this is how we look at measuring and maximizing digital. Your channels, whether they be owned, earned, or paid, can be evaluated based on these three criteria:

1. ENGAGEMENT – Basically, it’s a way to measure do people care? So they follow you or subscribe, but do they open your emails? Do they comment or like? Do they return or do your channels lose value instantly after sign-up?

2. REACH & AMPLIFICATION – What’s the eyeball value of your channels? For earned and owned, this includes PR, social media, and web. Those are the channels where you can create “free” eyeballs to maximize your spend on content and advertising. This can also lead to a drop in your Cost Per Acquisition cost if you’re basically getting free advertising without the CPC or CPM. (Not so fancy abbreviations for Cost per Click or Cost per Impression.)

3. CONVERSION – Straight-forward: Do they click? Do they sign up? What’s the return on each channel?

We think establishing strong relationships with the right customers is reciprocated in your marketing spend, your business strategy, and your survival. The Wild Wild West is soon upon us and a year from now will be very different we’re sure.

What do you think will matter most for survival of the fittest in the Race to Riches? Stay tuned to our RR category for more commentary as the markets unfold and develop.


^Sources: 2005 Media and Entertainment Consulting Network Survey; 2007 eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance Survey by Nottingham Trent University




We like to share things that often are mildly related to what we do but spark some serious inspiration and tingly feelings. Thus, our (color) outside the box series.

SLÖJD, a hard to pronounce Swedish word for “craft,” and now one of the three Swedish words we know, is also an incredible project hosted by No Right Brain Left Behind and GOOD.

Over the course of six evenings, these two organizations recruited a small diverse group of talented designers from across industries to build prototypes for algebra and biology students. They had to come up with 100 ideas as soon as their feet touched the ground of the workshop, before prototyping, vigorously iterating, and finally presenting and testing in live classrooms with students.

What do designers have to do with education? Well, depending on who you ask, nothing or everything. There is a tremendous transformation and technology revolution happening around us. Without getting too philosophical, we will never consume information in the same way again. Our capabilities as humans will be pressed as we make ways for lazy information access (Google glass anyone?) and, yet, critical and creative thinking will become far more important than ever. At a conference this past summer, I had the pleasure of listening to the Chief Data Scientist from the U.S. Government’s Accountability Office (U.S. GAO). His first joke, “Yes, there is such a thing” lol. But what resonated with me the most, was that to truly understand big data, he argued you also need to understand the world – the implications of how data can be used, how to think through realizing insights, how to creatively come up with new ways to understand what is going on. In essence, a strong argument for science needing art (something we believe here), and a need for humanities in the classroom.

So when you think about design having anything to do with education, when you think about what art can mean for the future thinkers and tinkerers of this world, you realize it can mean everything. There have been some phenomenal examples of this with children in Africa learning how to use an iPad without any instruction. Great design can teach you things simply on its own.

While SLÖJD is incredibly awesome and inspiring, it also raises good questions about innovation and opportunity in your business. What are you not looking at? Who can you bring in to add a different perspective? It is incredibly important to draw from industries and the world around you- to take a moment out of your rabbit hole to draw in some sun and fresh ideas to transform your business for what has yet to come.

If you could invite anyone in the world, who would you bring in to spark innovation at your office park? Note: we’re not looking for industry experts in your field. Let us know in the comment section below. Let’s see what we can spark.




When you think media plan do you think #winning? (You should.) 
AdWeek winning media plans

Top 10 lists! Oh joy. And unfortunately we don’t have David Letterman here to present to you. But we do have some highlights.

AdWeek recently presented its Top 10 Media Plans of the Year for 2013. Sounds incredibly exciting, right? It actually is when you get to the juicy parts: (Forgive us if this is purely marketing geeking out.)

Grey Poupon revitalized its brand by building a community of exclusive followers on Facebook; you had to pass a “test” to access the app, and for your good taste you were rewarded. Furthermore, the brand and its agency harnessed the power of digital media and communications (also know as earned media) to create a multiple of 2.5 times the views it purchased for its 30 second Oscar spot. Incredible targeting, true creative, effective and inexpensive buzz building planning = awesome, actually, sauce.

Some orchestration inspiration can be found in the Game of Thrones media plan. Building out a plan that started 6 weeks out from the season’s debut, they were able to create a more diverse and almost double audience for the hit series’ third season. The key to the media was its unexpected elements and strategic placing, enabling HBO to have its first hit at levels comparable to The Sopranos.

When debuting a new product, few industries have as long as lead times as movies. Except, maybe, video games.  Just learned: Call of Duty is basically the biggest and richest kid on the block in the video game world. It out-grossed The Avengers opening weekend, the biggest box office weekend in history at a cool $200 million, with a $500 debut in its first day alone. Huge, basically.
Point being, the crescendo COD has to continuously create for its new versions is an incredible model to follow – especially when looking at tapping into consumer demand for the launch of say, a branded slot machine with a cult following or the long-awaited debut of online gambling for US players. The brand’s ties to celebrities, sports, high-end talent development, and “natural” product placement add high value and allure to the already popular product. All easily applied lessons to the gaming industry, so long as it’s the right context, audience, and fit.

Other notable ideas include:  Traditional, Albeit Cutting-Edge Microtargeting, International Influencers, Swimming with Sharks, Handing Over Your Brand, and a Neglected Naked Audience.

What do these plans all have in common? Incredible strategy for one, and creativity for another. A fundamental belief at Katal is that marketing is art and science, strategy meets creativity. You 100% need both to be successful, to stand out, and to more importantly resonate and build lasting emotional connections with your (right) customers.

What strategies has no one in your industry looked at? What stood out for you from these examples? We’d love to hear if any of these sparked ideas for you, too.