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Brand Shuffle in Las Vegas

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Thoughtful preparation of an editorial calendar helps to keep a blog on track, but a compelling news item or article can seize the blogger by the throat and scream “write about me“!

Such was the case when I opened the Wall Street Journal yesterday and spied “An open letter from Las Vegas“. Lately I have read letters pleading for the saving of Darfur, the US banking system, and even Rod Blagojevich (at least two of those three were worth the read), but I did not expect to see a similar plea from Vegas.

Stricken by the economic downturn, the letter cited recent cancellations of events in Sin City due to the perception by corporate America that “Las Vegas is a “fun” trip or an unwarranted extravagance.” Our open market economy endows the right for any business to make its case and Vegas went on to emphasize that the scope of it infrastructure provides the perfect backdrop for conventions and drives enormous economic impact for the City.

The message was acceptable until it cried “at a time when America is getting back to basics, there is no room for playing the perception game”. This tugged on the generational message that “perception is reality” and guess what, Las Vegas ad campaigns over the past 5 years have pounded home nothing but the perception that it is a place to go wild and tell no tales. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” – we’ve all seen the humorous ads over the years and the message is clear.

Teenagers tend to flatly deny reality, the truth, when they are threatened and Las Vegas is invoking a similar defense. “I know it seems like I did ______, but it’s really not true” pleads the teen when caught “nearly” in the act of something they should not be doing. Well Vegas has been smugly pounding its chest for the past several years touting the wild and woolly. That campaign came on the heels of failed attempts to create the perception that Vegas was really a family destination.

I’m not passing judgment on Las Vegas, just on their approach to building brand. Whatever money they are spending on current campaigns to convince business planners to book conferences in their town, they might as well be themselves. It would make a more appealing message.

As for me, I like Vegas because every time I speak at a show there, I get my highest marks. You see, the attendees who do show up quickly check off all the “5’s” and then leave to play golf.

Viva Las Vegas!

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