MGM sticks to modified ad campaign despite some criticism

MGM Resorts International will continue to use a modified advertising campaign with a #VegasStrong hashtag despite social media criticism that it is exploiting the Oct. 1 shootings.

A company official said Wednesday that the new 30-second television spot, which uses some of the imagery from the company’s recently rolled-out “Welcome to the Show” campaign, has been positively received.

“We created this spot to reflect the strength and resilience of Las Vegas, of MGM Resorts, of Mandalay Bay and of all of our employees,” Lili Tomovich, chief experience and marketing officer at MGM, said in an Adweek story Wednesday about MGM’s new “Together We Shine” campaign.

The ad, which debuted during broadcasts of season-opening NBA games, is set to “This Little Light of Mine” sung by Odetta.

Between images from Cirque du Soleil shows and landmarks at MGM properties, the text says, “Together, we are one,” “Together, we rise” and “Together, we shine.” The ad closes with the MGM logo and #VegasStrong.

“The response to the message has been overwhelmingly positive,” Tomovich said. “It reinforces our promise to the world that we’ll remain strong and united in the face of adversity.”

An MGM spokeswoman said there would be no further comment about the ads beyond Tomovich’s response in the Adweek story.

While the campaign got some applause on Twitter and Facebook, others blasted the ad.

An advertising expert says it’s common for people to have different views of the ad based on previously held perceptions of the company.

“I think it’s not unusual for a corporation like MGM, which is intimately involved in a historic tragedy, to come out and try to address the community,” said John Carroll, an assistant professor of mass communication at Boston University who has written about advertising and the media in the Boston Globe and Adweek.

Carroll said current perceptions are based on past perceptions.

“It all depends on how you hold it up to the light,” he said. “If you are someone who is suspicious of MGM and suspicious of the investigative process or the level of cooperation that they’ve provided through the investigation, then you could conceivably look at this through a more cynical lens.

“I think many people will make a good-faith assumption, but it seems to me, just looking at the public reaction, that there are a lot of grassy-knollers out there who are going to, by nature, look at this and call it opportunistic and call it manipulative or whatever they want to call it,” said Carroll, who has never visited Las Vegas.

Carroll said it’s a difficult decision when to know to go back to previous campaigns.

MGM’s “Welcome to the Show” campaign, introduced in mid-September, has an edge to it, telling viewers the company intends to “blow the mind of all mankind” and is in the “holy sh*t” business.

“It’s a very delicate decision to make for when you signal to the public that it’s now back to business as usual,” Carroll said. “I think this is absolutely not the time for that message. You had a funeral today, and you have a couple dozen shooting victims still in the hospital, some of them in critical condition.”

Carroll said placing the #VegasStrong hashtag in reference to all MGM properties is more about community support for the people of Las Vegas than a bid to sell hotel rooms and show tickets.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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