Delaware RG Campaign Earns Award

An advertising campaign in Delaware designed to raise awareness of the dangers of gambling addiction by using a sleazy fictional spokesman (l.) has won a Healthcare Advertising Award.

Delaware RG Campaign Earns Award

An advertising campaign designed as a low-cost counterpoint to rampant sports betting advertising has won “Best of Show” at the Healthcare Advertising Awards. The campaign uses a fictional character, “Don Ciccanowski,” to engage with viewers and talk about gambling before changing the subject to the dangers of gambling addiction.

The campaign was created by Wilmington-based Aloysious Butler & Clark advertising agency (AB&C), which was retained by the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems (DCGP) to find a cost-conscious way to counter the millions being spent by betting operators to advertise gambling. “Don Ciccanowski ” is a sleazy, bookmaker-style gambling guru created by the agency and portrayed by Delaware DJ Allen Hite.

“We wanted something a little different and we put it out to Steve (Merino, managing partner and chief creative officer at AB&C) and the team, and he came back and said, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to like this. It’s a little bit of a stretch.’ And I flipped over it. I loved every second of it,” Arlene Simon, executive director of the DCGP, told the Delaware Business Times.

The campaign beat out 4,400 other entries nationwide in the Healthcare Advertising Awards, one of the 10 largest national advertising contests.

“Someone on our team suggested that in this gambling space right now there are so many players, and everybody is spending a lot of money to have the celebrity face,” Merino told the Business Times. “So, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we created our own character who was kind of a little bit of a sleaze ball?”

According to the DCPG, the advertisement drove more than 20,000 visits to the website and nearly 160 call/text inquiries and interactions with the organization’s live chat helpline. It also logged nearly 3 million web impressions and more than 1 million views of the Don Ciccanowski videos.

“They’re fighting against so many people, and you have to do something different to get attention,” Merino said, crediting the council for embracing an idea that is very different from what most of the healthcare industry is used to.