By Crystal Harrell
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino gives you a tantalizing escape into a Las Vegas-style gambling experience with luxurious hotel and dining accommodations, but behind every successful establishment is a team that made it so. Director of Advertising, Mandi Witkower, is one of those key players, having worked at the casino for almost twelve years in her position.
Witkower originally grew up in Portland, Maine, where she spent her school years through 5th and 12th grade. She considers Maine to be home, even though she was born in Santa Barbara, CA, and then moved to Los Angeles when she was three. The Witkower family settled into Charlottesville, Virginia, with three months left in her senior year of high school, still residing there today ever since 1995.
After graduating from Ithaca College in upstate New York with a degree in Television/Radio and minoring in Advertising and Public Relations, Witkower was ready to start her professional career—even though her plan for doing so ended up changing its course.
“My grandmother has always had a home in La Quinta, so I spent a lot of time here growing up. I had originally planned on moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Advertising right after I graduated college, but got side-tracked and moved to London with my best friend instead. What was meant to be a six month stay turned into almost a year. When I returned to La Quinta, I needed to get a job to save up for the move to LA,” explained Witkower
Witkower’s first job in the desert was at the ad agency, Kiner/Goodsell Advertising in Palm Desert, where she worked for over five years. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino was one of the accounts of the agency, and owner Scott Kiner brought Witkower on to assist with the account.
“Scott Kiner has definitely been one of the biggest role models of my life. When I first started out in advertising, he took a chance on me and gave me the tools, guidance, attention, and support that I needed to have a very solid foundation,” said Witkower.
The duties of Witkower’s position entail overseeing all of the media planning, buying, and production for TV, radio, print, outdoor, social, and online outlets. Her department handles all the graphic design for everything from the website to billboards to print ads to menus and all mailed invitations. She also oversees the public relations and all of the marketing and advertising for the entertainment at the resort.
The area that Witkower’s department is working to grow the most at the moment is their digital and social presence. The process involves strategizing how to best communicate with current and desired customers through various online and social media campaigns. Collaboration is then important for the small department to ensure they are successful in achieving their goal.
“I love the fact that there is always so much going on [at my job]. I love working with the different management for all the artists we have coming and being able to find solutions to integrating the artist desired look into our branded design so everything we do has continuity and is intently recognizable. I also love working with my team to take on huge projects and push ourselves to exceed people’s expectations. I work with an amazing group and I would not be successful without all of them!” stated Witkower.
One of the highlights of Witkower’s career so far is a video she produced about The 30th Anniversary of the Cabazon Decision—the Supreme Court case that ruled in favor of Native American sovereignty allowing tribes to offer gambling on their own lands. The tribe Witkower works for fought for their right to govern themselves and paved the way for all Native American tribes across the country to finally become self-sufficient.
In the future, Witkower hopes to continue growing her department internally and building an in-house agency that she will be managing. She plans on working through any issues and learning and growing from them, while always helping others by giving people her time, love, and energy.
“You don’t have to be everything to everybody… You can say no and people won’t lose respect for you. Setting boundaries is a good thing. Take some time to enjoy life. Find a balance between work and fun, and get to know everyone. Every person you meet has something they can teach you if you just take the time to get to know them and listen,” said Witkower.