Is The WSOP Marketing Poker To Kids With Its New Mascot Chippy?

Posted on July 3, 2018

The World Series of Poker and its often-ridiculous marketing efforts reached epic new lows this week when a mascot was introduced to the public at the start of the 2018 WSOP Main Event.

Chippy is a six-foot-tall plush-foam stack of WSOP chips wearing over-sized novelty sunglasses and headphones. It has also got a crooked WSOP.com hat and a gold-grilled perma-smile.

However, WSOP Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Caesars Interactive Ty Stewart wants it made it clear Chippy is a gaming instrument. According to Stewart, Chippy is far from “a cute animal or reptile” designed to market gaming to minors.

But who else besides children is a smiling plush-foam mascot really meant to appeal to?

Ty Stewart’s personal pet project

Stewart says Chippy is a “personal pet project.” After trying every hair-brained marketing scheme from frisbee dogs to announcer Michael Buffer and his brother Bruce, he says Chippy represents real progress and a crowning achievement for the WSOP marketing team:

“The whole bevy of models thing has been done to death. A six foot tall three dimensional chip stack, that’s progress.”

Stewart believes people come to the WSOP for memories and to experience a little bit of what they’ve seen on TV. In his mind, the experience should be equal parts fun and ridiculousness:

“A mascot at a poker tournament feels a little ridiculous and that’s why I hope players will come to love him.”

He’s right about one thing. In fact, Chippy is ridiculous. However, Chippy isn’t really ridiculous in any kind of fun way.

The truth is, if Stewart and the WSOP didn’t want to be accused of marketing gaming to kids, they should probably have scrapped the entire idea of a mascot altogether. This is a pet project that should have been left in the shed out back.

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Disney characters are for kids

No matter how “gangsta” Stewart thinks the headphones and gold grill make Chippy, he’s still a smiling plush cartoon-style character. The kind that is usually only found at theme parks like Disneyland.

Even proud Pennsylvanian Stewart admits Chippy’s design was “subliminally influenced” by various Hersheypark characters.

Does he also believe Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and those Hershey characters are designed to bring adults to the parks? An estimated 250,000 people in the US with furry fetishes aside, that’s patently ridiculous. Mascots are for kids no matter how you spin it.

Plans are to use Chippy in all sorts of ways. The character will greet fans and appear on live Twitch streams on WSOP.com. Plus, the new mascot will be part of a special promotion, inviting the public to take a selfie with Chippy.

Can children’s birthday parties and the resulting Nevada Gaming Control Board fines be far behind? Or, will the WSOP get wise and put the Chippy costume away, before it lands the organization in real hot water.

Photo by fiz_zero / Shutterstock.com

Martin Derbyshire Avatar
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Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.

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