Mall of America courts North Dakota oil boom workers

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2014 - 4:59 PM

The mall tries its first marketing video designed to lure a specific group of consumers.

Oil is sometimes called black gold. But it’s black green that has the Mall of America advertising to oil boom workers in North Dakota.

The Bloomington-based retail mecca hopes to lure some of those well-paid Bakken oil hands inside its doors, where shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities are considerably more plentiful than, say, Watford City.

The marketing campaign is primarily in the form of a YouTube video that features an oil patch worker checking into a Bloomington hotel and meeting his wife and kids for a fun break that stars the Mall of America.

“There are a lot of workers out there without their families, or they are really working long hours and don’t see their families,” said Dan Jasper, the mall’s vice president for public relations. “It seems to make sense to spend family time together.”

The YouTube spot, which was produced in house by the MOA staff, is the first video the mall has used to target a specific group of consumers. If this pans out, the mall could target other groups, like University of Wisconsin fans when the Badgers are coming to town for a Gophers game, Jasper said.

A MOA ad campaign for workers in the western North Dakota oil boom makes sense given the strong regional economy there.

“The wages are good. There’s a lot of discretionary income there,” said Sara Otte Coleman, director of the North Dakota Tourism Division.

Coleman said social media, including YouTube, is the best way to reach the oil field masses, where employment currently exceeds 40,000 workers.

“People want to lump western North Dakota into one demographic, and that is really not the case. It’s a diverse group,” Coleman said. “Digital, especially mobile, tends to be the best way to get people who are moving around a lot. Everyone’s got a smartphone.”

The MOA is supplementing its North Dakota push with some print and broadcast advertising. The retailing giant has also partnered with four nearby hotels to offer packages and discounts for the oil boom guests.

The 40-second video also has a brief, almost subliminal, message beyond the feel-good family reunion that flashes on the screen: “No sales tax on clothing.”

“That’s a huge selling point,” Jasper said. “That really motivates people from other states.”

 

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

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