Vegas acc't stays at R&R amid dispute over review

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R&R Advertising, the agency behind the "Las Vegas, open 24 hours" campaign, last week retained control of the city's tourism bureau account. But questions about the openness of the bidding process persist.

The head of Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., said he dropped out due to concerns about how committed the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority was to giving the $27 million to $30 million account a thorough evaluation.

"I don't think a 40-minute blind date produces a successful marriage," said Dailey President Brian Morris.

Sheldon Adelson, the developer of the soon-to-open Venetian luxury resort and a frequent critic of R&R's marketing strategies, called the review "a sham" and charged the Las Vegas-based shop used political connections to keep the account.

OPEN MINDS, SAYS EXEC

Donald Snyder, president of Boyd Gaming Corp. and a member of the authority, said board members maintained open minds throughout the three-month review process. In the end, he said, the board was impressed by R&R's presentation and opted to continue with a five-year plan the agency had drawn up last year.

"I feel the process was healthy and good," Mr. Snyder said. "It allowed us to refocus on the importance of strategy and . . . planning."

R&R CEO Billy Vassiliadis said the agency--founded by veteran Republican political adviser Sig Rogich--spent more than $200,000 on the review and that the outcome was far from a done deal.

The authority tossed the account into review in December--at the urging of R&R and in the hopes of countering critics. Some members of the community, such as Mr. Adelson, had taken issue with R&R's marketing strategy.

R&R was chosen over Colby, Effler & Partners, Santa Monica, Calif.; and a joint pitch by Merica Agency, Las Vegas; and Y&R Advertising, San Francisco.

Mr. Morris said competing shops were not given sufficient opportunity to question the bureau about why it had sought to review agencies, and about what, if anything, was deficient about R&R's work.

He also criticized the length of time allotted for agencies to make their presentations.

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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