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Summerlin celebrates 20 years

Two decades after starting construction on The Hills village — the first village in Summerlin that signaled the beginning of the master-planned community’s development — Summerlin is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Today, the community is home to nearly 100,000 residents in 40,000 homes throughout 19 villages along the western rim of the Las Vegas Valley.

To mark Summerlin’s 20th birthday, a multimedia campaign was launched May 10. While the new campaign includes print and TV ads, the real focus is on social media and a viral pre-campaign called Project Happy that encouraged resident participation and gathered consumer-generated content.

Using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, Project Happy invited Summerlin residents to wish Summerlin a happy birthday in the most creative way possible. Residents were encouraged to also share why they live in Summerlin. Forty of the most creative resident respondents were awarded HD video Flipcams and asked to record a birthday wish to their community, then pass it along to friends and neighbors to do the same.

“After initially handing out the video cameras, we wondered what we’d get,” said Nikkole Liesse, marketing director for The Howard Hughes Corp., developer of Summerlin. “We were thrilled and amazed when our office was flooded with footage only one week into the party. We’ve received everything from original jingles to lyrical dances. We are impressed by residents’ creativity.”

According to Scott Robertson, creative director of R+W, the ad agency that created the campaign, Project Happy is all about putting the consumer in control of the advertising. “Word-of-mouth is the single most motivating and believable form of marketing there is, Robertson said.

“Why not put our customer in charge? They get it. They work here, they go to school here and they celebrate all the important milestones of their lives here. No one is more qualified or more convincing to promote Summerlin than its residents.”

According to Liesse, summerlin.com will soon have a section featuring still photos and video resident responses from Project Happy. “Here, web visitors can view all the resident birthday wishes and resident testimonials,” she said. “It’s Summerlin’s own version of YouTube.”

In addition, residents who did not participate in Project Happy can upload content directly with the new site feature. A television commercial, using all the best resident-generated footage, debuted on May 10.

Summerlin’s 20th anniversary will be celebrated over the course of the next year. Special events designed to commemorate the community, its success and its residents will be announced over the next 12 months.

“The Summerlin plan took years to create and the community has evolved over two decades,” Liesse said. “It’s only fitting the party last all year.”

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