"Jack" is a name associated with presidents (Kennedy), Hollywood royalty (Nicholson), energetic comedians (Black), whiskey (Daniels), nursery rhymes (… and Jill), and toys (… in the box). Now the name is, oddly, being featured in a broad rebranding of a Detroit-based casino group owned by Dan Gilbert, the founder and chairman of Quicken Loans who also owns the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This week the company, formerly known as Rock Gaming, has been redubbed as JACK Entertainment LLC, and the names of its casinos, like the Greektown in Detroit and the Horseshoe in Cleveland, will soon become Jack—or rather, JACK.
Despite the capitalization, the name is not an acronym. The letters don't stand for anything. Instead, JACK is the result of a long process involving marketing experts and many meetings, and it's just intended to be a simple, memorable name that we're supposed to associate with a mischievous buddy who's always up for a good time. "Jack" is “that friend that got you to do things that, well, you knew you probably shouldn’t do,” explains a company promotional video in which, curiously, some dude winds up with a black eye after some shenanigans at a bar. "Jack says that just because your driver's license says you're an adult doesn't necessarily mean you have to act like one."
You might notice that there are almost no old people in this video. Surely, that's not an accident. The entire concept of "JACK" is the latest in a long line of pitches being made by casinos to attract the elusive, enigmatic millennial generation into a world long dominated by aging baby boomers who seem content to hypnotically, almost unconsciously, plug coins into dinging slot machines.
The reasons why millennials aren't flocking to casinos are plentiful, including their preference to be social and hang out in nightclubs rather than focus on hardcore gambling. They also prefer games that involve skill, as opposed to the pure randomness of the slot machine.
Casinos around the country have been adding everything from tattoo parlors and martial arts fights to craft beers and hipper shopping to try to drawn in millennials and, ideally, hook them for the long haul. There's also been a broad push to make digital gaming options less like old-fashioned slot machines and more like video games, with more interactivity on the behalf of the player.
And now, we have the manufactured personality of JACK serving as the supposed magnet for millennials. Some observers think the name change is a smart move, if for no other reason than that most casinos desperately need to update their brands.
“Greektown as an image for the casino was kind of old and tired,” Robert Kolt, an advertising and public relations professor at Michigan State University, told the Detroit News, concerning the Greektown Casino changing its name to JACK. "Any rebranding effort is going to be a good investment. Every so often you want to put a fresh coat of paint on the house, and that’s what they’re doing.”
On the other hand, as you'd expect on social media and in the comments sections below stories about the rebranding, the jokes and puzzlement have been flying. "That is one of the dumbest names they could have picked," one commenter wrote. "It proves they don't know Jack."