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June 15, 2014

Marketing and More: Viva Las Vegas!

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Written by: Robin Itzler
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Marketing Maven Robin Itzler at Caesar's Forum in Las Vegas. Courtesy photo.

Cities and states spend enormous sums creating a slogan or tag line for their brand so when people hear it, there is a unified mindset that defines the locale. For example, “I love New York,” “It’s so Miami,” and “Always Turned On” for Atlantic City.

Then there’s Las Vegas.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, tourism took a nosedive. In 2003, needing something that would generate awareness and tourists, the city’s slogan became “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Almost immediately, the slogan took off with the image of blushing intrigue where people shed their everyday skin and felt free to do and say whatever their imagination desired.

A few years ago, Las Vegas changed the slogan to “We do it all in Vegas,” which beckoned that the city had something for everyone. And it does; however, marketers quickly realized that they were better off chiseling at the basic “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” slogan than coming up with an entirely new theme. With slight changes, the campaign returned to “What Happens Here, Stays Here.”

In April, Ed Komenda wrote about the immensely successful “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” campaign in “How One Ad Campaign Changed the Face of Las Vegas” –

The campaign was simple and fearless: Focus on the idea of Las Vegas as a guilt-free place where visitors can assume any identity they choose and do things they would never dream of in their lives back home.

It worked brilliantly. “What happens here” changed the tourism game in Las Vegas. It triggered a surge in visitors, a generally younger crowd than those who had come before, which in turn gave rise to a nightclub scene that boosted the city’s economy.

Where visitors once came to Las Vegas to gamble and be entertained, “What happens” provided the city with a third major draw — the chance for tourists to be their own entertainment.

“It’s reflected what visitors want from Las Vegas,” said R&R Partners CEO Billy Vassiliadis, whose firm created the campaign. “It is reflective of Las Vegas as a place where I can come and escape my doldrums and escape the treadmill that’s my life.”

Slogans encourage tourism

Sharr Prohaska, who teaches about branding and tourism at New York University, says that states spend a lot of money to find the right slogan that they can build on for years to come. “For every dollar that goes into their advertising, the return on that dollar can be anywhere from in some states as low as $48, in some states around $330.”

According to the U.S. Travel Association for the one-year period from 2012-2013 nationwide all 50 states:

  • Spent more than $450 million for advertising and promotion.
  • Tourism generated $888 billion in direct spending.

Almost a decade ago, TaglineGuru analyzed hundreds of city slogans to determine which ones were successful at generating awareness and more importantly, generate tourism dollars. Their 2005 study determined that the tagline required four traits to be successful:

  • Attributes: Do they express a city’s brand character, affinity, style, and personality?
  • Message: Do they tell a story in a clever, fun, and memorable way?
  • Differentiation: Are they unique and original?
  • Ambassadorship: Do they inspire you to visit there, live there, or learn more?

Quirky city slogans

For every internationally recognized slogan, there are countless others for cities few people plan to visit. Some include:

Welcome to earth Earth, Texas
If gravity goes, we all go Gravity, Iowa
Where the battle wasn’t Gettysburg, South Dakota
It’s a location, not a vocation Hooker, Oklahoma
The little apple Manhattan, Kansas
Weed like to welcome you Weed, California
Don’t pass Gas, stop and enjoy it Gas, Kansas

What non-gambling happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

I once gave a presentation called “Not Even a Nickel” where I talked about staying at major Strip hotels and being busy morning to night without spending money to gamble — not even a nickel.

There’s plenty to keep you busy in Las Vegas beyond slot machines and card tables. Roll the dice for some suggestions:

Gardens of Eden
Imaginatively changing garden themes at the Wynn and Bellagio hotels are always worth the visit. At the Wynn, include a relaxing drink while enjoying its three-story cascading waterfall. At the Bellagio, watch at least one dancing water performance in its massive lake.

Inside outside
Caesar’s Forum at Caesar’s Palace or the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian are two of several indoor shopping malls that make you feel you are outside. Everyone should take the Venetian gondola ride at least once — either on the lake in front of the hotel or on the inside one-quarter mile waterway.

You can easily spend entire afternoons at:

  • Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay – There are 2,000+ animals in 1.6 million gallons of water and you can get up close to the sharks.
  • Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at Mirage – The expansive dolphin exhibit has 2.5 million gallons of water. Some of the animals in the garden (zoo) are rare breeds and/or on the endangered list.

Besides expensive shows
From celebrity headliners to lesser known, but equally good performers, to world-renowned costumed revues, there are infinite entertainment choices. And then there’s …

  • Fremont Street Experience – Pedestrian mall in downtown Las Vegas features regular musical videos on its 90-foot high vault canopy plus musical or tribute groups perform along the mall.
  • Red Rock Canyon – The large red rock formations are just 15 miles west of Las Vegas.
  • Hoover Dam – Built during the height of the Great Depression (not to be confused with Barack Obama’s Great Recession), it is the largest reservoir in the United States (by volume).

After a ride in the Eiffel Tower, here are some museums and exhibits:

  • Hard Rock Hotel lobby includes exhibits of clothes worn and guitars played by many of rock’s legends.
  • The Neon Museum Boneyard offers hour-long evening and day tours of some of the city’s memorable neon light signs. (The night tour includes some lit up signs.)
  • Mob Museum showcases the city’s history of organized crime and law enforcement with interactive exhibits.
  • Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum at the Venetian let’s you get up close with your favorite celebrities and historical icons.
  • The Auto Collection at the Quad (formerly Imperial Palace) has hundreds of antique cars on exhibit.
  • Titanic Exhibit at the Luxor has two features that in the Marketing Maven’s opinion make it superior to the Buena Park exhibit:
    • Replica of the grand staircase used by first class passengers.
    • Promenade deck with sounds of waves crashing and starry sky so you can feel what the conditions were like on the night the ship hit the iceberg.

These are just some of the many ways to enjoy Las Vegas without donating money to the casinos. Oh, I didn’t mention my shopping activities because “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Featured photo

Marketing Maven Robin Itzler at Caesar’s Forum in Las Vegas. Courtesy photo.

About the Author

Robin Itzler
Robin Marlena Itzler has worked in some facet of marketing, communications or training throughout her career. Recognized for her marketing expertise, Robin is theMarketing Maven for the “Orange County Breeze,” where her columns intertwine marketing and politics. She also authors the Pet Tails feature in the monthly “Breeze” print edition and Market My Words in Pet Sitters International's "World" magazine. As a training coordinator and public speaker, Robin is involved with a variety of projects – facilitating public speaking, writing and generational differences workshops. She and her husband own Royal Care Pet Sitting, which has been serving pet owners since 1998. Their love for animals began as humane shelter volunteers where for nearly 20 years they walked and bathed rescued dogs. A former NASD licensed securities representative, Robin once served as president of the Animal Assistance League of Orange County In 2011, she founded Motivate Your Something. Along with her autobiography, Life Is an Open Seating, Robin promotes her belief that everyone has at least one challenge in life that makes getting to the starting line harder. What is Robin's something? She is legally deaf.


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