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Bad Bet: Mohegan Sun Casino Cuts Losses on 2 Years of Terrible Ads

Folks on the East Coast will rejoice at the news that the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut has put its ad account into a competitive bidding review: It might bring to an end some of the worst casino advertising ever seen. Many a TV viewer has wrinkled her nose and made a "WTF?" face at the sudden appearance of a Mohegan commercial.

The ads featured decidedly uncool actors lip-synching to hits from the '80s such as "My Sharona" and "Superfreak." Not a completely terrible concept on paper, but the dancing and acting was so bad, and the commercials so poorly lit, that the spots looked more like a high school YouTube skit than a high-end resort promotion.

They also changed the songs' lyrics. Rather than addressing the kind of girl you don't take home to mother, as Rick James once put it, Mohegan's version made baffling promises about hotel room quality:

Las Vegas promises decadence and sin; Atlantic City promises closer-and-cheaper decadence and sin, but Mohegan's brand positioning was 180 degrees in the opposite direction:

How do we communicate, for a casino, an optimistic, joyous point of view? It's similar to when I was a kid and I was at recess. I felt safe. It's not sexy or edgy, but it's fun, just not in a 'I'm going to get into trouble tomorrow' way like Vegas is.
It's almost as if the client didn't understand what business they're in. Who goes to a casino to feel "safe" and "not sexy?" Here's a selection of reviews from when the campaign was launched in 2008:
Rick James is turning in his grave!

The Mohegan Sun paid for this ad?

It is so bad, it's fucking embarrassing to watch.

The incumbent ad agency, Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners (a unit of MDC Partners (MDCA)), declined to defend its contract. Perhaps the agency was too ashamed of its work to fight on. Or perhaps the client's business is troubled: Mohegan's revenues are down; and the ad account itself -- which the casino once boasted was worth $20 million a year -- is now billing less than half that.

Either way, this is your last chance to see choreography that made watching your parents at a wedding look cool: