Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Hard Rock

Thought I'd write a little bit more about what's going on in Vegas - after all that's what I advertise as my subject.
Topic this week in the local news is the Hard Rock Hotel, one of our local landmarks. It's not really on the strip - one of the new style of 'off strip properties' that chose to buy land on one of the cross streets a mile or two off of Vegas Boulevard. I don't know the prices, but probably one tenth the cost of a similar piece on the strip. Other off strip places are the Orleans, the Rio and the Palms. The Rio just rebuilt it's buffet, and I would really recommend it - about the best around and not as expensive as the big strip ones, and the Monday seafood special has crab and shrimp and lots of neat stuff. We usually hit the Orleans buffet, as they have crawdads every lunch and dinner and my son just loves to fill up three or four big plates and pig out. Too far to walk to the mail road, but only a short taxi ride away.
Anyway, The Hard Rock obviously pushes Rock and Roll. In keeping with this corporate image they tend to advertise in a manner not in keeping with the child friendly Vegas attitude that is slowly changing back to the topless runway show fantasies of long ago. Yes, LV used to be known for tall topless showgirls, then morphed into a kiddie playland, pushed by the likes of Circus Circus with, what else, a circus theme under the big top, and the Excalibur with a knights of the roundtable, castle theme. Both of these are owned by the Mandalay group, one of the major players in town. But after realizing that kids don't gamble, and parents that bring kids don't gamble as much as parents that don't, Las Vegas is moving back towards being an adult playground, with more skin. Typical of this is the Crazy Girls review at the Riviera. (be sure to click on Riviera, it's about the best Vegas fly in intro around).
Back to the Hard Rock - they ran a series of billboards that some prudish locals deemed to risque for the youngsters.

This one went up during rodeo week, trying to attract all of the cowboys in ten gallon hats off the strip and into the Hard Rock gambling hall. I think they even installed one of those bull riding things in the bar for the week.
After several complaints the local gaming commission tried to fine the Hard Rock several hundred thousand dollars for inappropriate advertising (in Vegas?) It was big news back then - see the Buck all Night billboard story from January 2004.
The Hard Rock then ran some print ads that also were deemed offensive.

Hey, at least she has some of her clothes on.
Lawyers appealed the commision fine, citing first amendment rights to advertise, and the hearing was last week. Leading up to the appeal the hotel put up another series of billboards.

I looked at this and saw some cartoon animals, and a punch line trying to poke fun at the gaming commission. Other people saw other things - one letter writer to our local paper pointed out that the billboard showed a pussy, a beaver, and a couple of rabbits, 'and you know what rabbits do'. I never saw it that way, but the hotel never said how to look and perhaps that is what they were trying to say.
But, at the hearing the Hard Rock got off of it's fine. I'm not sure how, but here's another billboard story that talks about it.
So, that's what is in the paper around here for the past few weeks. And filling up the TV news as well. Not the 'pussy/beaver/rabbits' part, but the right to advertise stuff.
Search google for Hard Rock Billboard and you'll get a ton of news articles listed, some of them rather funny.

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