Red Circle Celebrates 15-Year Milestone

Contact: Chad Germann

Chad Germann’s Red Circle Agency does 15 years of work to profit Native America.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Native American Chad Germann has always been inspired to help tribes do well. Germann, 43, owner and CEO of the 50-person Minneapolis advertising agency, Red Circle, and member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, has led a growing agency team through 15 years of helping over 85 native casinos profit.

As Red Circle celebrates the 15-year milestone, Germann reflects on his vision. “People think native tribes are rich because of their casinos,” Germann says, “but that’s not the reality. Very few are rich, most still struggle. And those tribes with casinos depend on gaming profits to provide economic self-sufficiency. We do the best work we can because improving the casino’s bottom line improves the tribe’s community.” Grand Casino, for example, one of Red Circle’s accounts, provides more than 3,000 jobs. Profits have been used to build a new health clinic and a new native-friendly bank, and seed money is available to tribe members for new business opportunities.

Germann believes one of the best ways to drive native casino profit starts with a deep understanding of the casino business, so Red Circle staff includes former native casino marketing directors, digital managers and database strategists as well as traditional ad agency folk. Combining casino and ad agency thinking streamlines the process, according to Germann.

And that process begins with research. When Red Circle realized that many native casinos couldn’t afford to pay the hefty price to mine valuable players’ club data, the agency created its own software. Germann shows obvious pride in Red Circle’s proprietary database marketing software, RECON. “We can provide Indian casinos with simple, affordable access to the same meaty, valuable information. “

But the agency isn’t all about data and metrics. “Hitting an emotional chord to create action. That’s the heart of a good ad,” says Germann, whose agency is responsible for the 2014 in-your-face “No Honor In Racism” TV ad demanding the Washington Redskins change their name. The ad featured men and women who use racist profanities to describe their ethnicity. These profanities are bleeped out, but “I am a Redskin,” spoken by an Indian man, are loud and clear. The TV commercial hit nearly 360,000 YouTube views.

A place that creates its own software and challenges an NFL football team? It’s not the picture of the conventional advertising agency, but it seems to be working. Red Circle has been on a three-year growth trajectory of 406%, is on Inc. Magazine’s 5000 list, is a Twin Cities Business Magazine Small Business Success Story, and, in 2016, was voted one of 100 Best Companies to Work For by Minnesota Business Magazine. The agency boasts 19 Telly Awards for excellence in television advertising.

“Yes, the awards are great, but that’s not why I’m in this,” Germann explains. “There is still so much work to do in Indian Country. Our communities need to catch up, so our children can have bright futures. I want to make sure Red Circle is on the right side of all of this. I want to make a difference.”

And that’s exactly what Germann has been doing, 15 years and counting.