Promotion tempts adults with taste of freedom

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LAS VEGAS -- A $40 million marketing campaign touting the city as the ultimate escape to indulge in adult freedom was launched this month.

In a yearlong promotional blitz that will reach across the country, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) will spread the word that the city is the place to go to shake the pressures of work, traffic, kids, mobile phones and all the things that can make life hectic.

The campaign's message -- "Las Vegas: What you want. When you want." -- departs from traditional marketing ploys that have emphasized "sweeping landscapes, happy couples dining at fine restaurants or references to gaming," said Rossi Ralenkotter, vice president of marketing of the LVCVA.

Instead, the new strategy targets consumers who are bogged down by daily routines, delivering a message that they can be liberated to eat, play and gamble in Las Vegas around the clock.

An opportunity to enjoy special events programming, such as the presidential election and the Super Bowl, will be stressed.

The modus operandi being used are national cable and spot network television and radio advertising, publications, promotions, public relations, street marketing and the Internet, Ralenkotter said.

"In a time when people are feeling overwhelmed, not only by the chores of their everyday lives, but also by the assault of traditional advertising messages, we will surprise and delight them when they least expect it," he said.

Indeed, the LVCVA and R&R Partners, a Las Vegas public relations and creative research agency, concocted some far-out gimmicks to catch consumers' attention in harried situations where they are most open to suggestion.

In supermarkets, flyers will invite shoppers to "play with these [potato] chips" and checkout counter dividers will remind them that relief from the daily grind awaits in Las Vegas.

Little scenarios on airport lines will involve a harried looking guy ripping off his tie and exclaiming, "I can't take it anymore; I'm going to Las Vegas" and a second guy who shouts, "I'm going with you."

A Freedom Tour will hit the streets Oct. 9 to 22 in Atlanta; Chicago; Cincinnati; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Minneapolis; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; Seattle, and St. Louis.

"Brock Wilder," a fictitious character played by an actor, has been designated as the campaign's signature "spokesman."

As such, Brock will be making personal and television appearances throughout the year extolling the city's entertainment, shopping and diverse dining venues.

A number of television commercials, to be directed by filmmaker Errol Morris and enacted by real tourists, will portray an escape from real life.

Animated commercials, to be directed by Zack Snyder, will air in early 2001.

New York, Los Angeles and Phoenix are earmarked for TV promotional spots.

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