Thursday, April 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Nevada’s Tourism Commission kicked off its new branding campaign for the state Tuesday, unveiling a slogan, revamped website and a commercial that will air next week in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Phoenix.
The slogan, which the campaign is based on, is a doozy:
“A world within. A state apart.”
Really? That’s Nevada?
Well, let’s not rush to judgment and say we just don’t get it. Give it a minute, let it sink in and ... let’s see: There’s a world of who-knows-what to explore within Nevada, and it’s a state apart from, um, Arizona? California? Reality?
Never mind. We’re lost.
That’s not good, especially considering the state has worked for nearly two years to create this and, including the cost of running the ads, will spend about $9 million. Yes, all that for: A world within. A state apart.
But the slogan is just the tip of the iceberg. The real crime of the branding campaign is that it minimizes, if not ignores, Las Vegas.
Go to the website — travelnevada.com — and you’ll have to work to find anything about Southern Nevada. The front page features a cowboy with a lasso and pictures of Lamoille Canyon (look it up), Ely and Tonopah. Judging by the layout on the “to do” part of the website, tourists are apparently more interested in information about the Galena Creek bridge, the Goldfield courthouse and the Lovelock depot, among other hotspots, than in anything to do in Las Vegas.
And the commercial goes out of its way to ignore Las Vegas. It features the home-grown band the Killers singing the old western song “Don’t Fence Me In” and a montage of clips of outdoor activities — oh, and a fleeting cameo of a man at a craps table.
There are no images of the Strip, the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead or McCarran International Airport. Nor are there any images of the Bellagio’s fountains or the Luxor’s light that can be seen from space. Also missing was any representation of the world-class entertainment here. Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas, anyone? Cirque du Soleil? Penn and Teller? Showgirls?
Yet, state officials praised the slogan and the campaign. Gov. Brian Sandoval said it “captures Nevada’s DNA” despite its missing part.
Looking at what’s been rolled out, the state Tourism Commission sees the world within Nevada as a state apart from Las Vegas.
It makes Nevada look like Wyoming or Montana: wide open spaces; long, empty roads — and not much else.
That’s not to criticize any efforts to market the rural and scenic areas of the state; they should be promoted as part of a statewide effort. But that can’t be done without promoting Las Vegas, as well.
Beyond a smart slogan, the campaign is missing a unique part of Nevada: the symbiotic relationship between urban and rural. Many of the tourists who come to enjoy outdoor activities come to the city before and after. They buy supplies, take in a show, savor a fine meal and enjoy the pampering the resorts offer.
Perhaps this is just a start of Nevada’s campaign and there’s more to come that will put this in perspective, but state officials need to understand that Las Vegas is Nevada. Southern Nevada is an international destination, with more than 37 million visitors last year. It is the driver of the state’s economy and home to 75 percent of the population.
Perhaps there’s an argument to be made that Las Vegas does such a good job promoting itself that it doesn’t need any other help, but if that’s the case, then don’t brand this as a “Nevada” campaign because without Las Vegas, it’s not Nevada.