Updated June 9, 2020 - 4:03 am
The rapidly changing landscape of COVID-19 and unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd have played havoc on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s bid to bring visitors back to the city.
But now, everything is ready to roll.
The LVCVA board of directors on Tuesday will get its first look at a new television ad campaign designed to show the city is ready for business.
Tourism leaders and even Gov. Steve Sisolak have said reopening Nevada’s casinos won’t be as easy as flipping a switch.
But a new digital advertisement that is expected to debut sometime this week shows just that.
The LVCVA, through advertising consultant R&R Partners, is promoting last week’s reopening of casinos with an ad that shows the Las Vegas Strip lights coming back to life.
The ad, called “The Light,” opens with an unlit individual throwing the switch on an industrial power lever. It follows with the relighting of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and then a north-to-south overview of Strip resorts lighting up.
More than a dozen resorts are identifiable in the flight down the Strip.
At one point, there’s a counterclockwise lighting of the High Roller observation wheel with a little trick photography — the Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Harrah’s Las Vegas and The Mirage are all shown in the background.
The erupting Bellagio fountains also are prominently displayed.
Near the end of the spot is a long shot of the north-to-south relighting, followed by the ending taglines. The ad closes with the tagline that Las Vegas is “Now Open.”
A COVID-19 era
“The Light’ reinforces that the Las Vegas experience, although now slightly reimagined, will still be fun and exciting and as unique as the destination itself,” said H. Fletch Brunelle, vice president of marketing with the LVCVA.
The guest experience might be a big different than before, but he said the agency is confident “we will strike a balance between the experiences our guests have come to expect from the destination, with the urgent needs to adapt our environment accordingly as a result of COVID-19.”
Since late last week, a 30-second spot delivering the message that Las Vegas is prepared has been shown on the LVCVA website and social media channels.
With images of openings and iconic features in action and employees putting on face coverings, the ad shares the message of “We’re happy to see you again” and “We’re doing what we can … to ensure you can do everything … without worrying about anything,” and concluding with “Now let’s get back to the Vegas we know and love.”
The ad is set to run nationally across a combination of network and cable channels including ABC, CBS, NBC, BET, BET Her, E!, ESPN, NBA TV, TV One and Travel Channel. It also was to run digitally as part of a streaming schedule with NBC.
The LVCVA did not disclose how much the ad cost to produce, nor the cost of the national ad buy.
“As you can imagine, we have had to be very creative in executing marketing programming during the current fiscal environment,” Brunelle said when asked about the cost of the project. “In producing ‘The Light,’ our creative team was able to utilize assets from other programs and creative executions which enabled us to keep production costs in line with expectations. In terms of our ad spend for this reopening campaign, we were able to utilize funding from our current fiscal year advertising budget that was in line with historic spend levels for an effort of this importance.”
The LVCVA had estimated spending $85 million for advertising in the current fiscal year that ends June 30. Last month, the LVCVA approved a budget for the next fiscal year that spends $65 million for advertising.
The ad was supposed to launch last week, but Brunelle said the rapidly changing landscape has made it a challenge to present the right tone at the right time for visitors to be here.
Brunelle said the LVCVA wanted to be sensitive to those remembering Floyd, now the center of national attention on a number of fronts. Floyd, an African American, died two weeks ago after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes while trying to subdue him. The incident has sparked nationwide protests, including in Las Vegas.
“When we saw things throughout the country, saw what the national conversation was, we knew we needed to be respectful of what was happening,” he said. “To us, the city has always embraced diversity with respect and sensitivity.”
It was the second time this year that the LVCVA had a last-second pivot on an ad campaign. In January, the LVCVA was set to unveil it’s “What happens here, only happens here” campaign with a series of coordinated activities tied to an ad running during the Grammy Awards telecast.
The ad ran as scheduled during the Grammys, but all other activities were canceled following the shocking death of Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar Kobe Bryant the day before. Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26.
“Much like our campaign launch that coincided with Kobe Bryant’s tragedy, current events dictate when we pull back on or push any of the new ads, even if they are already scheduled to be in rotation,” Brunelle said. “However, we are very mindful and share in the distress over the current unrest and national dialogue, which deserves the focus and attention of the nation.”