It’s Scary Out There
Dan Goldman and I have worked together on lots of projects over the years. Not only has Dan been a great friend to me since we’ve known each other during the past 15 years, or so. He’s also taught me a lot about the poker business, especially when it comes to the many ways advances in technology have impacted the game.
If you want to know more about some of the behind the scenes stories as to what working in the poker business is really like, including lots of fun stuff, I urge you to read some of the stories he’s now sharing regularly with his readers. CHECK OUT DAN GOLDMAN’S BLOG HERE
For those who don’t know as much, Dan served as the head of marketing for PokerStars.com for nearly ten years. We worked together at PokerStars for three of those years, when he hired me as the company’s Director of Communications. Dan was always an “ideas” man. What that means was — he loved to dream up new and sometimes crazy ideas and then work towards making them happen. I think one of the reasons PokerStars.com eventually became the world’s biggest poker site was, at least in part, due to Dan’s innate creativity.
After leaving PokerStars, and before he joined one of the big Native American tribes in California as an online gaming consultant, Dan considered launching his own start-up company, which was to be a (legal) online poker site based in the United States where players competed for prizes. Frankly, I don’t think that being an owner and CEO suited Dan nearly as much as working in marketing and publicity. Sure, I think he could have made a go of the company he created had the timing been a little better and the landscape in the United States been different. However, the company survived only a short time. This was one of Dan’s few misses in his career. But like with most successful people, he learned from that experience and those disappointments and became an even more valuable asset to the industry in more recent times.
During the phase when Dan was working on creating a new company, he envisioned a bold campaign that would take advantage of ridiculous new laws being passed at the federal level (first the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and then so-called “Black Friday”) which all but wiped out online poker inside the U.S., at least for a while. Dan decided to film a series of television commercials which spotlighted the hypocrisy of government restrictions that were prohibiting online poker in various forms — launched by everyone from legislators to law enforcement. The idea behind the spots was — why was anyone concerned with criminalizing online poker when so much real crime was being committed elsewhere and law enforcement resources were already so strained? It just didn’t make any sense.
Dan wrote a creative he titled, “It’s Scary Out There.” This was to be a viral video, lasting three full minutes. However, parts of it were also to be condensed and would run over the course of a show as advertisements in a serial form. Dan basically did everything — from writing the script, to storyboarding the shoot, to hiring the production company, to casting the actors. I joined Dan as a consultant and was present during most of the filming at a studio in Los Angeles. His idea was to create a CSI-like atmosphere, and I think he largely succeeded with that imagery.
Here’s the fun spot written by Dan and directed by Suzanne Luna, who among many projects, now works on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Dan recently noted that Ms. Luna received a prestigious award for her work in television.
Here’s the advertisement with a message from around 2009 which never ended up airing on television [FOOTNOTE], but which certainly is quite relevant today, especially in light of what’s going on in Washington with tone deaf and technophobic congressmen now threatening to criminalize online poker in America. Yes indeed, when you think about it — it’s really scary out there.
Footnote: These are exactly the kind of public service ads that should have been created by online gaming companies long ago and bombarded the news channels, with the intent to influence policy in the same way that other big corporations buy TV ad time. Frankly, the entire online gaming industry’s political efforts since inception has been a major embarrassment, one of the reasons online poker has not managed to make as many inroads inside the U.S. as in other markets.