R&R Lets Freedom Ring in Vegas

In its latest bid to reinvent itself as something more than a gamblers’ paradise, Las Vegas is embracing the notion of adult freedom in a new marketing campaign by R&R Partners.

The new tagline is, “Freedom to start your own party.” The typical Sin City images are notably absent.

The revamped brand position is intended to help the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority cope with the growth of competing gambling venues in the U.S. and distance the city from past efforts to be seen as a family-oriented theme park.

Of the total estimated budget of $40 million, about $16 million will be spent on TV ads that will run nationally on spot network TV and on cable channels such as CNN, ESPN, A&E, Lifetime and The Weather Channel. The commercials, which break this week, will be reinforced with newspaper, magazine, radio, Internet and direct response ads, along with events, promotions and public relations work.

“In a time when people are feeling overwhelmed by the chores of everyday life, we will surprise them when they least expect it” with this campaign, said Rossi Ralenkotter, vice president of marketing for the visitors bureau. “Everyone needs the freedom to break loose and indulge. Las Vegas is poised to fill that need.”

The campaign is two-pronged. The first part is anchored by four ads introducing the fictitious Las Vegas Freedom Party and candidate Brock Wilder. The work seeks to humorously satirize sober presidential campaigning and rhetoric and offers a trip to Las Vegas as a mischievous and pleasurable antidote.

In one poolside spot, an attractive woman in a swimsuit wraps an American Flag around her waist; in another, a dark-haired young woman beckons the candidate into a limo.

In January, a new set of TV ads will hit, designed to tell sexy and witty stories about real and animated characters who abandon the everyday to play in Las Vegas. Comic magicians Penn and Teller are featured in one of the spots describing Las Vegas as “a big prom for middle-aged people.” The tag in the second round of ads will be modified to read, “What you want. When you want.”

Officials at the Las Vegas agency confirm that the effort—backed by nearly a year of research—is the most image-oriented and emotional campaign ever for the client, which traditionally focuses on product ads and special events.