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Campaign seeks to lure Calif. businesses to Vegas

Goodman says edgy ads will drive Californians ‘bonkers’


Nevada Development Authority

The Nevada Development Authority released this flier today as part of a campaign to attract California businesses to Las Vegas.

Updated Thursday, Aug. 6, 2009 | 4:02 p.m.

Campaigning For Small Businesses

The Nevada Development Authority is launching a $1 million campaign in Southern California on Friday to lure small businesses to Las Vegas.

Apples to Apples

This commercial by the Nevada Development Authority is intended to encourage California businesses to move to Las Vegas.

Lipstick On a Pig

This commercial by the Nevada Development Authority is intended to encourage California businesses to move to Las Vegas.

Monkey Off Your Back

This commercial by the Nevada Development Authority is intended to encourage California businesses to move to Las Vegas.

Monkey Around

This commercial by the Nevada Development Authority is intended to encourage California businesses to move to Las Vegas.

The Nevada Development Authority’s newest advertising campaign to lure Southern California businesses to Las Vegas says if they stay there they can “kiss their assets goodbye.”

The $1 million campaign, which breaks Friday in Southern California on television, radio and print, is the NDA’s latest attempt at enticing businesses to relocate.

Similar previous campaigns have drawn heated responses from California government officials and business organizations and the new campaign, which is edgier than those produced in the past, is expected to get under the skin of loyal Californians.

Los Angeles’ ABC affiliate, KABC, already has told the NDA that it would not run the new spots.

The campaign, developed by Las Vegas-based Shonkwiler Partners, incorporates two basic themes, an apple-to-apple comparison of California and Nevada business climate in which the California apple shrivels and rots and another that compares the effects of California legislation on businesses to the shenanigans of a monkey. The ads incorporate the tagline “Kiss your assets goodbye.”

The NDA sells Southern Nevada for its lower personal and business income taxes, reduced workers’ compensation rates and decreased operational expenses, including its friendlier regulatory environment.

The campaign hits at a time when California faces a $26.3 billion budget deficit projected to reach more than $42 billion next year. The state began issuing IOUs for a variety of payments it owes, but several banks stopped accepting them in mid-July. To lampoon the IOU development, the NDA is issuing IOUs promising a better business environment in Nevada whenever a company makes an inquiry.

The ads were debuted to the media and NDA guests at Town Square’s Rave Theaters on Thursday. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was in the crowd and gave the campaign a thumbs-up for creativity and he said he believes they will stir things up when they’re aired.

“They’re really great,” Goodman said after the screening. “They’re going to drive them (Californians) bonkers. This campaign is very Las Vegas.”

Somer Hollingsworth, president and CEO of the NDA, said California’s problems aren’t just a product of the recession.

“Their problems started well before the recession began with the high taxes and workers’ comp rates and the regulatory policies,” Hollingsworth said. “Business owners would be able to make more money, hire more employees and buy more equipment here. They could do more with their business in Nevada than they ever could in California. Just looking at the numbers, I don’t know why a California business owner would not relocate to Southern Nevada.”

Hollingsworth said he expects the campaign would boost relocations by 20 percent and inquiries by more than 50 percent. Over the past five years, the NDA’s economic development efforts have resulted in the creation of 14,500 jobs resulting in an economic impact of $4.8 billion on the community, the non-profit agency says.

Shonkwiler Partners chief executive Terry Shonkwiler, who was pleased with the positive response the ads received in the debut, said he felt his team hit the mark by drawing attention with its edgy message and being relevant with references to high taxes, red tape and overregulation.

Shonkwiler said there would be more “guerilla marketing” tactics used for the duration of what’s expected to be a 90-day campaign. Tim Quillin, who heads the Q Ad-PR agency in Las Vegas, is planning a social media barrage and the NDA campaign already got a boost last week when people holding signs showing the NDA’s new Web site – – was visible in crowd shots during the “Today” show tapings in Las Vegas last week.

The NDA site received 53,000 hits, nearly 10 times what it normally gets, after the sign showed up on national TV.

What NDA officials are counting on is that the emotions generated by the campaign will lead to news stories and free media opportunities, just as Las Vegas benefited when the National Football League banned its “What happens here, stays here” ads during the 2003 Super Bowl.

Hollingsworth figures that KABC’s banning of the ads could lead to greater publicity for the campaign.

KABC did not return calls for comment on why it chose not to air the ads.

Hollingsworth also said a pop song titled “Kiss Your Assets Goodbye” would debut on YouTube next week. He said he hopes the song would reach another audience and lengthen the legs of the ad campaign.

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