THAT ABOUT COVERS IT

They are hard to miss, but that’s the point.

A 40-story-high Jim Beam bottle ad on the side of the Rio, which was finished this week, is visible to commuters and tourists traveling north on Interstate 15.

An image of an Absolut Vodka bottle appears on the east side of the Luxor towers above the Strip.

Both advertisements are also visible from planes landing and taking off at McCarran International Airport.

"It is Vegas," said Kevin Cooke, Western region vice president of marketing for Jim Beam’s parent company, Beam Global Spirits and Wine. "You can do things here that are fun to bring it to life in a real and interesting way."

Advertising wraps on hotels, such as those promoting "Love," the Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show at The Mirage or the movie "Resident Evil: Extinction" on the side of the Planet Hollywood Resort, are appearing with greater frequency.

But such hotel-size banner ads largely have been reserved to promote events at the hotel or a sister property.

The new ads, however, aren’t promoting any events at the hotels.

The Rio is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment, which also owns an additional seven hotels on the Strip.

Harrah’s now has advertising wraps promoting singers Toni Braxton on the Flamingo and Céline Dion on Caesars Palace, and one for "The Producers" on the side of Bally’s, next door to Paris Las Vegas where the show is performed.

The Jim Beam ad promotes September’s designation as National Bourbon Heritage Month.

"We met with the Rio marketing department and decided to do something in a very big way," Cooke said. "We felt it was a way of bringing our vision to life of building brands people want to talk about and do it in a very big and seismic way.

"Vegas is becoming the new Times Square of the U.S. You get 3.5 million visitors coming to Vegas to have a good time," he said. "It is a good place to initially make a big statement."

Absolut Vodka is a business partner with Luxor’s parent company, MGM Mirage. The advertisement went up Sept. 1 and is scheduled to remain for six weeks.

Some wraps have been used to hawk something beside a local show. Previous wraps at the Luxor have been used by communications company Motorola and software company Oracle during technology conventions at Mandalay Bay. Others have been used to promote car maker Toyota or new film releases.

"It is something we’ve seen an increase in in the past few years," said Jenn Michaels, vice president of public relations for MGM Mirage. "We say no far more often than we say yes, making certain any brand that is positioned on the side of the building is properly associated with the property. An appropriate fit is the most important thing for us."

Michael Weaver, vice president of marketing of the Rio, said the wraps "help put a different suit of clothes on the building" to raise its profile.

"We hope those people coming into Las Vegas and who have seen the Rio many times suddenly notice something different," Weaver said. "Anytime somebody notices your building there’s a chance they’ll walk in your front door."

Adidas used wraps as part of a major advertising blitz during the National Basketball Association All-Star week in February.

In addition to wraps on the side of the Luxor, MGM Grand and Bally’s, the company also had large replica jerseys draping the lion in front of the MGM Grand and the Statue of Liberty at New York-New York.

"We were looking to make an impact in a city that is very hard to make an impact in," said Travis Gonzolez, head of global basketball public relations for adidas. "When you look at the kinds of things we did, we had to go bigger and better."

Adidas was in the first year of a 12-year contract as the official outfitter of the league so it was important to make a statement, Gonzolez said.

Mike LaTour, chairman of the marketing department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas College of Business, said the wraps are a unique way for advertisers to standout from "the media clutter" on the Strip.

Visitors are open to receiving different media stimulation, which could give the large wraps more impact, he said.

"There’s the expectations of unique stimuli coming at you when you in this town," LaTour said. "That in many ways primes the pump, or heightens the impact, of such things."

But the effect of these new nonevent ads is hard to measure, LaTour said, because it is harder to collect data.

None of the advertisers or hotels were willing to discuss how much the wraps cost.

Gonzolez said February was the most money ever spent by adidas on a single event, although he wouldn’t say how much the wraps and jerseys cost.

Both Cooke and Gonzolez said large wraps that are being used in Las Vegas are hard to duplicate in other regions.

Some cities have legal codes that might not permit large side-of-the-building ads of any kind, they said.

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