The Desert is In

Published on .

For years, Tim O'Brien has been striving to show that Nevada is more than just Las Vegas. As CD at R&R Partners in Reno, he produced ads for the state's tourism board touting Nevada's rolling hills, rocky cliffs and glorious vistas. But no one bought it. One focus group actually thought he was pulling their leg - that the images were shot in Wyoming or Utah. "That was a real revelation," says O'Brien, a Nevada native. "Those sides absolutely exist, but they weren't resonating after years of Wild West films showing Nevada to be nothing but desert." Instead of fighting inertia, O'Brien proposed a campaign that would focus on the desert, appealing to adventure travelers that actually enjoy dry, difficult vacations. Luckily, research was on his side. "The planners uncovered this huge, affluent group that requires nothing more than the opportunity to test their limits," says O'Brien. He was more than happy to oblige. Four posters, tagged "Bring it on," taunt rugged travelers with desolate landscapes and hardcore inhabitants. One shows a bare-chested man in a fur hat and sunglasses laughing, as a terrified backpacker retreats into the background. Hand-written text says, "A nice quiet place to get in touch with your inner masochist." Another features a tattooed man with his head bowed. "Welcome to the endangered species list. " The whole experience was incredibly liberating, says O'Brien. "At last I can tell the truth: I'm barren and I'm proud!"

Client: The Nevada Commission on Tourism Agency: R&R Partners/Reno CD/AD/CW: Tim O'Brien AD: Mike Corbitt Photographer: Jim Erickson

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