Las Vegas Ad Campaign Is Super Bowl End Run

Out-of-Bowl Placements Thumb Nose at NFL

By Rich Thomaselli

DETROIT ( — Rebuffed in its efforts to run ads in last year’s Super Bowl, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority this year is making an end run around the National Football League’s ad restrictions by airing two out-of-bowl spots centered on the big game.

The three-week, $1.5 million Super Bowl campaign features two 30-second spots, both using the tagline “If only it was this exciting at the game in Houston,” where Super Bowl XXVIII will be played Feb. 1. The ads encourage those not traveling to the big game to party instead in Las Vegas.

Promoting gambling

The two spots debuting today are a bit of a tweak of the National Football League, which last year denied a request from the tourism authority and its Vegas-based agency, R&R Partners, to advertise on the Super Bowl. The league said the ads would be promoting gambling and it restricts all advertising that does so.

One ad will run the next three weeks on national broadcast and cable networks portraying Las Vegas as the place to be for big events, such as the Super Bowl. The other ad will be a one-day only spot on Super Bowl Sunday, and will air on a competing national network and not Viacom’s CBS, which is televising the game.

Agency’s contract renewed

R&R Partners, which just received a second five-year extension of its contract with the tourism authority that begins in July, plans to develop similar campaigns in the future around other big events, such as the Oscars, college basketball championship tournament, National Basketball Association Finals and baseball’s World Series, among others.

Also later this month, the next phase of the tourism authority’s controversial $58 million “Vegas Stories” campaign debuts with six new spots. The ads, which began in January 2003, use the tagline “What Happens Here, Stays Here.” The spots created a huge buzz — in part because of the publicity of the NFL’s refusal to run the ads on last year’s Super Bowl, and also because of their controversial nature that renews the image of Las Vegas as a sexy, adult playground.

Turned-on limo passenger

One spot, for instance, showed a woman in the backseat of a limousine, dressed provocatively, telling the driver how much she enjoys the smell of the leather seats. When the driver arrives at the airport, the woman is now dressed in business attire and talking on her cell phone, although she seductively sidles up to the driver and breathes in deeply as if to take one last sniff of the car.

The latest batch of spots were shot in Las Vegas in late October. Though the content is unknown, they will continue the “Vegas Stories” theme and one is even said to feature a senior citizen couple enjoying the city.