Vegas Calls in New Campaign

The voice of cranky comedian Don Rickles has been enlisted in the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority’s latest effort to woo travelers with the pro mise of “freedom.”

Themed “Vegas calling,” a summer campaign from local agency R&R Partners is an extension of the “Freedom” effort the shop created in 2000. Spending is nearly $15 million, up from $8 million for last summer’s campaign.

“One of the great things about the Vegas ‘Freedom’ positioning is that everyone who visits Las Vegas has a different definition of freedom,” said Mary Ann Mele, partner and chief strategic officer at the agency. “Whether it’s overindulging on the buffet or spending all night out, there are unlimited possibilities.”

The campaign, which introduces the tagline, “Freedom from Dulls ville,” includes three 30-second TV spots, as well as print, radio and online media.

“We call people during their daily lives,” Mele said, “and remind them Las Vegas is all about the freedom to live your unexpressed life.”

TV ads feature Rickles as the voice of Vegas. They are airing nationally now through August in spot markets on network and cable.

One execution shows a bride who is distracted from her gown fitting by Rickles’ voice that tartly asks, “You’re gonna wear white, after all?” The scene shifts to her wild bachelorette party in Las Vegas, and then to the wedding, where her mother is seated next to a male stripper.

Another spot has a lost couple driving in a car. The onboard navigation system is taken over by Rickles’ voice, who leads them to Las Vegas instead of their planned destination.

Print ads running in People, Entertainment Weekly and USA Today ask, “When Vegas calls, will you be ready?” Images include a sale on lucky rabbits’ feet and a CD changer with Liberace, Wayne Newton and Sammy Davis Jr. discs. The campaign is meant to attract visitors during the summer months, which is typically the city’s slowest time.

LVCVA vp of marketing Rossi Ralenkotter said the ads airing after Sept. 11 for Las Vegas, including the spot featuring the Frank Sinatra song “It’s time for you,” have aided in the city’s recovery.

“We’re still not [where] we were at this time last year,” he said. “But our campaign, as well as the campaigns of all the hotels in Vegas, is contributing to the turnaround we’ve seen in visitors and occupancy.”